EFCC Probes Zamfara Gov, Matawalle Over ‘N70bn Fraud’

The anti-graft agency said more than 100 companies were involved in the heist.


FILE: Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says the outgoing Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle is under investigation for alleged N70bn fraud.

The Commission, in a statement on Thursday, said the All Progressives Congress (APC) powerbroker is being investigated over allegation of monumental corruption, award of phantom contracts and diversion of over N70billion.

“The money which was sourced as loan from an old generation bank purportedly for the execution of projects across the local government areas of the state, was allegedly diverted by the governor through proxies and contractors who received payment for contracts that were not executed,” the statement partly read in part.

“The Commission’s investigations so far reveal that more than 100 companies have received payments from the funds, with no evidence of service rendered to the state.”

The EFCC said some of the contractors had been invited and quizzed, adding that they made “startling revelations on how they were allegedly compelled by the governor to return the funds received from the state coffers back to him through his aides after converting the same to United States Dollars”.

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

“As part of the extensive investigation of contracts award by the Matawalle administration, especially for phantom projects in the local government areas, the Commission has recovered a sum of N300million from a company, Fezel Nigeria Limited. The funds were traced to the Zamafara Investment Company.

“In Nigeria state governors and their deputies enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution while in office, a reason the EFCC has yet to arrest Governor Matawalle.”

Matawalle, who lost his re-election bid in the 2023 governorship election in the state in March, would complete his single term tenure of four years on May 29, 2023.