The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday and Tuesday arrested key leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party in the North-East states of Borno, Adamawa, Yobe and Gombe.
The arrests, it was learnt, were part of investigations into the $115m (N23bn) allegedly disbursed by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, during the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.
This is just as Senator Saidu Kumo, who is the Special Adviser, Political Matters, to the embattled PDP Chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff; and a former PDP Chairman in Gombe State, Paloma Nuhu, returned N2m each from their share of the money.
Some of those arrested include: a former Minister of Power, Mohammed Wakil (Borno); a former Minister of Science and Technology, Alhaji Abdu Bulama (Yobe); and the PDP chairman, Mr. Joel Madaki (Adamawa). The accountant of the Gombe State Government House, Mr. Mohammed Balbaya, was also arrested for the Diezani bribe.
Explaining the reason for the arrests, a reliable source at the EFCC said that the suspects handled N450m each for their respective states.
The source said the PDP chairman in Adamawa State was arrested for receiving N450m. The chairman, Madaki, was said to have told investigators that the money was handed over to the then acting Governor Bala Ngilari.
The detective said, “The PDP chairman in Adamawa has shifted the burden of explaining how the sum of N450m campaign funds sent to the state were distributed by the former acting governor of the state, Ngilari.
“In a statement he wrote and signed at the EFCC office in Gombe, the PDP chair said he, in conjunction with a former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Hassan Adamu, a signatory to the document, authorised the release of the money by the officials of Fidelity bank in Yola.
“Madaki, however, said he immediately gave the money to the former acting governor of the state for disbursement to the beneficiaries as envisaged by the donor, adding ‘I did not know how Ngilari distributed the money’.”
The source revealed that Adamu had been invited to explain his own side of the story on June 16. It was also learnt that Ngilari might soon be invited by the anti-graft agency.
Regarding the sharing of the fund in Gombe State, the EFCC source said the accountant of the Gombe State Government House, Mr. Mohammed Balbaya, was arrested and interrogated.
The detective said, “Balbaya was interrogated for his role in the N338m campaign funds sent to Gombe. He told investigators that he collected the sum in cash from an official of Fidelity Bank in the state based on the directive of Senator Kumo.
“He said that he contacted the Permanent Secretary and Principal Private Secretary to the governor of the state, Dr.Sani Jauro, who directed him to share the money to the beneficiaries. He denied deriving personal benefit from the process. However, he had not shown who the beneficiaries were and the amount individual or group collected from him.
“Senator Kumo and the state former PDP chairman, Paloma Nuhu, have through bank drafts refunded N2m each which they claimed to be their personal benefits from the funds. The said amount came from the sum of N106m both signed and collected from Fidelity Bank for their state. However, Senator Kumo could not account for the balance of N106m.”
In Borno and Yobe states, the funds were allegedly coordinated by ex-ministers Wakil and Bulama respectively.
A source at the anti-graft agency quoted Bulama as saying that he collected N450m from the Director of Finance, Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Senator Nenadi Usman, for use in funding the PDP presidential election in the state.
“Former Minister of Finance Nenadi Usman called and informed me to go and collect money in Fidelity Bank. A five-man committee was set up to coordinate the campaign activities in Yobe State, and we received N450m.
“The money was disbursed based on a template we received from Abuja and we shared it among the three senatorial zones in the state.”
The Borno State Coordinator, Wakil also confirmed he received N450m, according to the EFCC source.
“I received a call from Nenadi Usman, former Minister of Finance, that N450m was sent to Fidelity Bank and a template for how the disbursement of the funds will be conducted.”