© 2018 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Babangida Aliyu Syphoned Billions From Niger State – Governor Bello
By Samuel Malik
Niger State governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, has announced the state government’s intention to probe the administration of former governor Babangida Aliyu over financial impropriety running into several billions of naira, including suspicious and fictitious contracts.
The governor in a broadcast on the state of affairs of the state, said the Financial Management Committee set up by the government to look into the financial records of the state uncovered questionable withdrawals and allocation of funds, most of which could not be accounted for.
Specifically, a review of the State and Local Government Joint Account by the committee, according to the governor, revealed that more than N70 billion was withdrawn from two bank accounts of the Government House by few people between 2007 and 2015.
“The operation of the joint Account was characterized by diversions and misapplications of huge funds especially those paid to Ward Development Projects and 10KM Roads Projects.
“For instance, out of the total sum of over N11Billion paid to the accounts of Ward Development Projects, the relevant officials of the Ministry of Local Government could not account for N2.86Billion, while N 613Million was spent on “ghost” vehicles and N675.50 million was said to be lent to Ministry of Finance where the funds cannot be traced. Similarly, the sum of N 498 Million purportedly spent on security cannot be traced to any security outfit or individual,” Bello stated.
The governor alleged that a conduit through which the state’s fund was syphoned is the 10KM Road Projects, where more than N1 billion was diverted and shared among Local Government Chairmen Forum, Government House and office of the Secretary to the State Government.
This, he said, led to contractors abandoning several road projects in the state.
Also, the past administration allegedly used special projects as a means of swindling the people of the state.
For example, a N233.3 million Solar Power Street Lightening contract was awarded and a down payment N174 million made, only for the contract to be revoked and re-awarded to another contractor at the cost of N792Million, which is twice the initial cost.
The Minna Modern Stadium project also proved to be bad business. The initial contract of N2.4 billion was reviewed to N1.8 billion after the government had paid N606M for design and preliminary works, which it later rejected without recovering the money spent.
Also, N1 billion naira taken from the stadium’s account for the purchase of shares in the North-South Power Company was not returned despite the state government later divesting from the company.
More questionable, the governor noted, was a loan of N2.96 billion taken in 2014 by the Ministry of Local Government despite it having a bank balance of N3 billion. It was discovered that the money was frittered away.
“Apart from the amount of N994M transferred to the Pilgrims Welfares Board, the Ministry officials could not account for N 203M while N 572M and N530M were paid into the accounts of Government House and SSG’s office respectively. These amounts were later on paid out in cash to PDP officials and other individuals. The vehicles for which N30M was purportedly spent are nowhere to be found,” the governor explained.
Another questionable transaction was in selling quoted shares by state by the State Development Company. More than N500 million generated from the sale of shares belonging to the government was allegedly not paid into the state’s account.
In 2014, the government of Babangida Aliyu reportedly set aside N1.06 billion for Ramadan while N897 million was spent on the purchase of Sallah rams.
A contract for digging of pit toilets was allegedly awarded at an astonishing N6 million each.