Tinubu nominates Matawalle, accused of N70 billion fraud, as minister

THE President of the Senate, Godwin Akpabio, on Tuesday, August 2, unveiled 19 additional ministerial nominees sent by President Bola Tinubu.

The chief of staff to the President, Femi Gbajamiabila, presented the new ministerial list to the Senate during the plenary session.


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Akpabio unveils Oyetola, Bagudu, Matawalle, Lalong, 15 more ministerial nominees

Zamfara gov accuses Matawalle of stealing 17 vehicles, TVs, cookers

Matawalle loses reelection bid in Zamfara as Fubara, Sani win in Rivers, Kaduna


Former governors Adegboyega Oyetola, Atiku Bagudu, Bello Matawalle, and Simon Bako Lalong were prominent Nigerians who made it to the new list of nominees.

Others names on the list are Maryam Shetti, Ishak Salako, Tunji Alausa, Tanko Sununu, Ibrahim Geidam, Ahmed Tijani, Bosun Tijjani, Lola Adejo, Shuaibu Aninakar, Zephaniah Jossalo, Tahir Mamman, Aliyu Sabi, Alkali Ahmed, Heineken Lokpobiri and Uba Maigari.

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On Monday, July 31, the Senate began screening the first batch of a 28-man list of ministerial nominees. 

The second batch of ministerial nominees sent to the Senate for confirmation on Wednesday consists of 19 names, which includes six former governors.

Among the former governors nominated by Tinubu is the Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state, who is being investigated over alleged N70 billion fraud.

In May 2023, the EFCC revealed that it is investigating Matawalle over alleged N70 billion theft through fraudulent contracts awarded by his administration.

The EFCC Director of Communication Osita Nwajah disclosed this on May 18 while addressing journalists at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

“The Commission would like to put the nation on notice to expect more of the kind of wild allegations made by Matawalle as those at the receiving end of EFCC’s investigations fight viciously back.

“But the real issue with Matawalle is that he is being investigated by the EFCC over allegations of monumental corruption, award of phantom contracts and diversion of over N70 billion,” Nwajah said.

Accusing the governor of “monumental” corruption, the EFCC stated that it tracked down more than 100 companies that received payments from the claimed funds while there was no evidence of service to the state.

The EFCC said that as part of the extensive investigation of contracts awarded by the Matawalle administration, especially for phantom projects in the local government areas, the Commission recovered N300 million from a company, Fezel Nigeria Limited.

The Commission added that several of the contractors it had invited and questioned had made shocking admissions about how the governor allegedly forced them to return the money they had received from the state coffers to him through his aides after converting it to US dollars.

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“They confirmed that they did not render any service to Zamafara State but were allegedly directed to convert the monies paid to them into United States Dollars and return to the State governor through some of his commissioners, notably the Commissioners in charge of Finance and Local Government Affairs.

The Commission stated that one of the contractors, an Abuja property developer, collected N6 billion from a N10 billion contract without rendering any service to Zamfara state. 

“Another contractor collected over N3 billion for a contract for the supply of medical equipment, but the Commission traced a payment of N400 million from his account to a Bureau de Change operator.

“The contractor confessed the payment was to procure the dollar equivalent allegedly for the state governor,” Nwajah added.

It added that funds were traced to the Zamfara Investment Company.

As a result of Matawalle’s immunity from prosecution as a state governor at that time, the EFCC said that he has not yet been detained and charged with any crimes related to his alleged criminal behaviour.

Also, in another statement on May 19, the EFCC described Matawalle’s $2m bribe accusation against its suspended chairman Abdulrasheed Bawa as a means to divert attention from the alleged fraud perpetrated by the Zamfara governor.

In the statement signed by the spokesperson of the Commission, Wilson Uwujaren, the EFCC said Matawalle’s recourse to mudslinging is symptomatic of a drowning man clutching at straws.

The Commission warned the public about plans by some of the alleged corrupt, politically exposed persons to flee the country before May 29. 

The EFCC, however, said it is working with its international partners to frustrate the escape plans of such politicians and bring those involved to justice.




     

     

    Similarly, the Zamfara State governor, Dauda Lawal Dare, said his predecessor Matawalle, stole 17 vehicles belonging to the state government.

    Dare, who made the allegations while speaking with a local radio station in Gusau, the state capital, on Wednesday, May 31, also said Matawalle looted various public properties, including televisions and cookers, from the Government House.

    “Former governor Bello Matawalle had gone away with 17 vehicles from his office and those in the deputy governor’s office claiming that the vehicles are his personal belongings. In fact, not even office equipment were spared,” he said.

    Dare, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), defeated the incumbent, Matawalle, of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the March 18 governorship election.

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