The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is currently interrogating a former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, over series of corruption allegations.
PREMIUM TIMES understands that the former governor had been held at the Sokoto office of the anti-graft agency for eight hours as of the time of filing this report on Tuesday.
The newspaper had exclusively reported how the commission via a letter dated April 6, 2021 invited Mr Yari to appear for interrogation at its Sokoto office on April 8.
But our correspondent confirmed from sources in the anti-corruption agency that Mr Yari only honoured the invitation on Tuesday.
“He honoured the invitation at the Sokoto office at about 11a.m. on Tuesday,” a source said.
The source confirmed that the former governor was still with the operatives of the commission as of 7p.m. on Tuesday.
“He has been offered bail, but he has not been able to meet the bail conditions,” the source added.
PREMIUM TIMES reported in February that Mr Yari faced a long interrogation session with detectives at the Lagos office of the EFCC over an alleged attempt to illegally move N300 billion from a corporate account in a new generation bank.
Although details of the transaction were sketchy, sources told this newspaper that Mr Yari gave a lengthy statement to the commission’s operatives before he was released late in the evening of February 3.
Paris Club refund angle
PREMIUM TIMES recalls that Mr Yari, the immediate-past chair of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has been under EFCC’s searchlight over his handling of proceeds of Paris Club refunds since 2017.
A court document filed by the commission in 2017 sheds light on the suspicious nature of payments concerning the Paris Club refunds by the Mr Yari-led NGF
The refunds that were over-deducted from the allocations of the 36 state governments in connection with the London and Paris clubs loan between 1995 and 2002.
In a court document filed in 2017, EFCC stated that it received an intelligence in January 2017 alleging “conspiracy, criminal misappropriation of public funds involving the sum of N19,439,225,871.11 out of the Paris Club refunds made by the Federal Government in favour of the 36 states of the federation”.
The commission had in the court filing, sought an order of forfeiture of N500 million and $500,000 allegedly recovered from Mr Yari.
The anti-corruption agency said the funds were found in the accounts of First Generation Mortgage Bank Ltd and Gosh Projects Limited.
It said the sums of money were part of N2.2billion “fraudulently transferred by the NGF to BINA Consults and Integrated Services Ltd on December 23, 2016.”
Following the ex parte application filed by EFCC, the Federal High Court in Abuja, on June 30, 2017, issued an interim order of forfeiture of the N500 million and $500,000.
But, in November 17, 2017, the judge, Nnamdi Dimgba, rejected the commission’s further request for a permanent forfeiture of the funds, and went ahead to set aside the earlier interim forfeiture order.
The judge said it could not grant the forfeiture order since different entities had come forward to lay claim to the funds.
He added that should the EFCC feel “strongly about the illicit origin of the funds”, it should take steps “to discharge the requisite burdens of proof, rather than resorting to the easy route of a forfeiture afforded by the Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud Act.”
ICPC obtains forfeiture order
But another judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Ijeoma Ojukwu, on January 26, 2021, ordered the final forfeiture of funds suspected to be proceeds of corruption found in bank accounts linked to Mr Yari.
The judge gave the order following an application by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
While $56, 056.75 was lodged in Polaris Bank account, the sums of N12.9 million, N11.2 million, $301, 319.99; N217, 388.04 and $311, 872.15 were kept in different Zenith Bank accounts, all in the name of Mr Yari and his companies.
The judge held that the former governor did not show good cause why the order sought by the ICPC should not be granted.
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