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El-Rufai Denies ‘Scandalous’ Allegations Of Diverting N423bn By  Kaduna Assembly As He Faces Probe

Kaduna’s House of Assembly’s ad-hoc committee has urged authorities to investigate former Governor El-Rufai for allegedly diverting N423 billion.

The ad- hoc committee set up by the Kaduna State House of Assembly to investigate all finances, loans and contracts awarded by the administration of former Governor Nasir El-Rufai has recommended that the ex-governor should be investigated by appropriate law enforcement agencies for alleged diversion of funds and money laundering.

But in a swift reaction to the committee’s report, El-Rufai dismissed the allegation as scandalous, saying he served the state with integrity.

Presenting its report on Wednesday at plenary, the chairman of the committee, Hon. Henry Zacharia, said most of the loans obtained under the El-Rufai administration did not follow due process and were not used for the purposes for which they were obtained.

The committee alleged that a total of N423 billion was siphoned by the El-Rufai government while leaving the state with huge liabilities.

The committee accused El-Rufai of breaching his oath of office and failing to exercise due discretion in the administration of the state, thereby plunging Kaduna into unwanted, unjustified and fraudulent domestic and foreign debts over and above the total loans obtained by Kaduna State from 1965 to 1999.

The committee alleged that El-Rufai, who was governor of Kaduna State between May 29, 2015 and May 29, 2023, “as the Chief Executive Officer of the state breached his Oath of Office contained in the 7th Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and failed to exercise due discretion in the administration of the state.”

The committee also stated in the executive summary of the report that the former governor indulged in, “Plunging the state into unwanted, unjustified and fraudulent domestic and foreign debts over and above the total loans obtained by Kaduna State from 1965 to 1999 and majority of which were obtained without due process.”

It accused El-Rufai of  “reckless awards of contracts without due process and due execution leading to several abandoned projects despite payments”.

It further accused the administration of authorising humongous withdrawals of cash both in naira and dollars, “with no records of utilisation and denied the state of the needed resources for development.”

The report also accused the former governor of: “Complicit activities with commissioners and heads of parastatals to defraud the state by issuing directives to KADPPA to circumvent due process in the payment of contractors vide letter dated 21June, 2021.

“Diversion of funds and money laundering contrary to all extant laws and regulations and accordingly should be referred to the law enforcement agencies for in-depth investigation and appropriate action.”

The committee said its findings revealed several cases of corruption in the running of the affairs of the government, ministries, departments and agencies under  the El-Rufai administration.

On the huge debt profile left by El-Rufai, the committee declared that “all loans (domestic and foreign) obtained by the Kaduna State government between 29th May, 2015 to 29th May, 2023 were found to have been obtained without due process are not binding on the state and the state government should henceforth stop honouring all.”

It recommended that the Kaduna Internal Revenue Service should withdraw its  account domiciled at Zenith Bank pledged as security for N20 billion, guaranteed by the previous administration in 2023, forthwith and asked the bank to refund all monies deducted on account of the purported illegal guarantee together with the accrued interest thereof.

The report, which was adopted by the Assembly, further recommended that all those who served as Commissioners of Finance and Accountant Generals of the State from May 29, 2015 to May 29, 2023, be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agencies for investigation.

Also recommended for investigation by appropriate law enforcement agencies were the chairmen of Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service (KADIRS) from 2018 to 2023. The committee asked the current Commissioner for Finance to step aside to allow for proper investigation into the activities of the ministry from May 29, 2015 to May 29, 2023.

Similarly, the current chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) was asked to step aside to allow for thorough and proper investigation into the activities of the Board from May 29, 2015 to May 29, 2023.

Recommended for further investigations by relevant law enforcement agents, also, were Jimmy Lawal and Muyiwa Adekeye, who served the El-Rufai administration as Senior Adviser-Counsellor and Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication, respectively, for eight years.

The committee accused Lawal, “who was saddled with the coordination of the activities of Government Ministries and Agencies, albeit without any constitutional role, of abusing  the trust bestowed on him and used the opportunity to introduce dubious companies to which he secured the award of several contracts at outrageous amount and which contracts were abandoned after payment of substantial contractual (amounts), thereby defrauding the Kaduna State Government.”

Adekeye was recommended for investigation for his alleged involvement in contracts in Kaduna State Media Corporation (KSMC).

The report said Managing Directors of Kaduna Roads Agency (KADRA) from October 11, 2017 to November 2021, with the exception of Amina Ja’afar Ladan, who only spent a month in office, “be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agencies for in-depth investigation into their roles in the award and poor execution of contracts during their tenure.”

The committee asked several contractors to refund a total of N36.3 billion “being monies paid for work either not done or  overpayment or diversion.”

Meanwhile, El-Rufai, in a statement by his media aide, Adekeye, said he served the state with integrity. He stressed that he was proud of his record in service.

The statement said, “We are aware of news that the Kaduna State House of Assembly has adopted the report of the ad-hoc committee it asked to probe the El-Rufai government. We have not been availed a copy of the report, to which we would respond robustly whenever we obtain it. We affirm the integrity of the El-Rufai government and dismiss the scandalous claims being aired as the report of the committee.

“Malam Nasir El-Rufai is immensely proud of his record of governance and the legacy he left in Kaduna State. This record of consistently high performance in public and private office cannot be altered by any malicious effort to use the auspices of a state legislature for defamation and undeserved smears.

“Many of the officials who served in the El-Rufai government appeared before the ad-hoc committee because of their confidence in the quality of their service and the rectitude with which they served Kaduna State. They were under no illusion that they were participating in a fair process. It was obvious that the ad hoc committee was merely going through the motions of an inquiry just to give some gloss to predetermined conclusions.

“It is sad to see such a shameful departure from any notion of decency and fairness by a state legislature. We dismiss with contempt the claims being peddled in connection with the report.

“Malam El-Rufai wishes to assure discerning Nigerians that he has served Kaduna State with integrity and to the best of his capacity, assisted by a hardworking and patriotic team. He complied with all extant laws in all his activities while he was the governor. This jaundiced probe should be disregarded as the politically motivated hatchet job it is.”

John Shiklam

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