How former acting governor, Fintiri, piled debts for Adamawa in 3 months, diverted funds

Ahmad Fintiri, Adamawa state governor

When former governor Murtala  Nyako of Adamawa state was impeached in July 2014, some of the reasons given by the lawmakers for the removal of the governor and his deputy, Bala Ngilari, at the time was that the two leaders led the executive arm of government to fraudulently divert huge sums of money from the state’s coffers.

The funds allegedly diverted included N10 billon of workers’ salaries for September and October 2011; N120 million of Adamawa state workers’ emolument for May, 2014; N1.7 billion for Special Assistants; and N8 billion for fictitious contract.

That impeachment led to the emergence of the speaker of the Assembly, Ahmadu Fintiri, as acting governor of the state.

New details now show how Mr. Fintiri himself, in less than three months, did the same thing or even worse, piling over N5billion as debts within the period, spending huge sums for cars and “office renovation” for himself and state officials, and diverting monies meant for a school project.

State sources and available documents suggest the governor may have used the diverted funds for fraudulent contracts and for himself.

Our findings shows that Mr. Nyako left a balance of N1, 957, 045, 82 in the state government project account with the Yola branch of Zenith Bank with account number 1011325467.

Details of some of the transaction in the account showed that over N497 million was meant for the construction of a Faculty of Law complex at the state University in Mubi.

Records show that as acting governor, Mr. Fintiri authorized the release of N1.9 billion from the projects account to the state Ministry of Works on August 27, 2014.

PREMIUM TIMES obtained a copy of the records of capital payments made by the state government from July to October 2014 when Mr. Fintiri held sway as acting governor, and the records showed that the N1.9 billion released to the Ministry of Works was simply diverted.

When Boko Haram activities heightened in the north east and the militants seized towns and villages in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, Madagali local government, the home town of the acting governor, was the first to be taken over by the insurgents on August 22.

The next to be taken over was Michika local government on September 7.

Curiously however, the records of payments made by Mr. Fintiri showed that part of the N1.9 billion released to Ministry of Works was for the construction of Bridges and Culvert in Mararaba Garta and Kamale roads in Michika Local government area.

As at August 27 when the money was released, areas around Garta and Kamale were basically deserted and it would be very difficult for any new form of construction to take off at the time.

There were more specific expenses that did not portray a state under an emergency rule.

On August 5, Mr. Fintiri released over N65million to the Ministry of Finance for “the purchase of vehicles to be used by the acting governor in Abuja”.

The amount, no doubt, could have better helped state citizens in displaced persons’ camps.

On September 26, the acting governor approved over N256 million to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development to “renovate” the State House of Assembly Complex.

For the three months he was in office, Mr. Fintiri borrowed over N5 billion.

When he assumed office in July, the debt profile of the state government with commercial banks stood at N8.7 billion.

But by the time he left office in October 2014, the debt had risen to N13.85 billion, documents received by this newspaper show.

Worse, the acting governor took the loan without the approval of the state executive council or state House of Assembly as the law demands.

A senior official said the state government account was subsequently “put on hold” due to the noncompliance to the loan incurred and that they were only opened after Mr. Fintiri left office, when his successor, Bala Ngilari, signed an acceptance letter from the bank for government activities to continue.

Where the money has gone

Documents obtained by this newspaper suggest where the monies diverted would have gone.

Checks at the corporate affairs Commission showed that Mr. Fintiri incorporated a company, Mayim Construction and Properties Limited on November 13 2014.

That, itself, was a crime as federal laws prohibits government government officials from setting up business concerns.

The company’s registration No. is RC 695885 and its Directors were listed as Hamidu A Umaru, Ismaila Ahmadu, Umaru Ahmadu and Faiza A. Umaru.

Three of the directors, aside Mr. Fintiri, are the speaker’s children. All the Directors gave their residential addresses as LQ 12, Malamre GRA Quarters, Jimeta, Yola-North, Adamawa state.

The company’s registered office at CAC was also recorded as LQ 12 Malamre Quarters, Yola. It is also the home of the former acting governor, Fintiri.

Using the name of the company, Mr. Fintiri bought the assets of S M Nguroje Nigeria Limited through the Bank of Agriculture.

The Property is a Tea Plantation, Factory Building, Plant and Equipment for Tea Production and Processing located at Maisamari (Mambila) in Sardauna Local Government Area of Taraba state.

A letter of offer to Mayim Construction and Properties Limited from the BOA dated August 13, (When Mr. Fintiri serves as acting governor) showed that the property was offered to the company at the sum of N650 million.

According to the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, a state legislator receives about N6 million per annum, comprising basic salaries and other allowances.

The amount includes an annual basic salary of N1.34 million; accommodation, N802, 335; vehicle maintenance, N267, 445; and recess allowance, N133, 772.

The lawmaker also receives, once in four years, a vehicle loan of N5.3 million, furniture allowance of N2 million and N2.6 million as severance gratuity.

Other yearly emoluments are N334, 306 for constituency allowance; N334, 306 for domestic staff; N133, 772 for utilities; and N66, 861 as newspapers allowance.

Based on that analysis, as a lawmaker, the total take home pay for Mr. Fintiri over a four year period should be N24 million, raising questions of how the former acting governor was able to purchase a property at N650 million.

We gathered that the state government is already planning to petition the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, with a view to investigating and recovering the mismanaged funds.

Calls by this newspaper to Mr. Fintiri on Tuesday were not answered. He also did not reply a text message sent to him seeking his reaction to this story.

However, Mr. Fintiri’s spokesperson, Solomon Kumangar referred this newspaper to a resent statement released by the former acting governor in which he alleged that the executive arm of government was planning to sponsor false allegations against him after its attempt to impeach him failed.

He said the plan was to accuse Mr. Fintiri of not following due process in the award of contracts and sourcing of funds for the execution of the Faculties of Law and Medicine of the Adamawa State University during his tenure as acting governor.

“It is however important for the public to note that the Ministries concerned duly advertised the projects for pre-qualification tender which were not opened before Fintiri’s tenure came to an abrupt end,” he said.

He also said the proceeds from the 5 Billion Naira bond which was earmarked to execute the project was yet to mature as at the time Mr. Fintiri left office, adding, “what funds could he have tampered with or much less mismanaged?”

PREMIUM TIMES efforts to speak with the spokesperson of Governor Bala Ngilari, P. P. Elisha, were unsuccessful as he also failed to return our calls or respond to our text message asking for his comments for this story.

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