Barring the lack of diligence in the prosecution of cases by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission some former governors and their children will go to jail, PREMIUM TIMES can report.
While in office and protected by constitutional immunity, many former governors and their children were found to have helped themselves to billions of naira of funds belonging to their states.
The blatant rape of the states’ resources went unabated as unemployment, poverty and hunger ravaged citizens.
While the number of governors and their children who used their position to steal state funds might be more, only the cases of three governors already before the EFCC are treated in this report.
PREMIUM TIMES presents some of the messy deals which the EFCC accuses former Governor Nyako and his son Abdulazeez, former Governor Martin Elechi and his son, Nnanna and former Governor Sule Lamido and his sons, Aminu and Mustapha, of.
Murtala Nyako & Son
Murtala Nyako was elected Adamawa State governor in May 2007 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Mr. Nyako, however, ran into trouble when he wrote a scathing letter April 18, 2014, accusing the then President, Goodluck Jonathan, of committing genocide against the people of Northern Nigeria.
In the letter which was addressed to the Northern Governors’ Forum, Mr. Nyako, among other things accused Mr. Jonathan of incompetence, corruption and high-handedness in the war against Boko Haram insurgents.
Not long after releasing the acerbic letter, he defected from the PDP with five other governors and later joined the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The Adamawa State House of Assembly wasted no time in compiling impeachable offences against Mr. Nyako.
They also dragged in his very powerful son, who was alleged to be handling multi-billion naira contracts for the Nyakos.
Mr. Nyako fled the country even before his impeachment was finalized and was declared wanted by the EFCC on February 4, 2014, alongside his son, Abdulaziz. Both were wanted for criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering.
The EFCC also arrested and questioned key officials of the state over alleged massive looting of the treasury.
During its investigation, the EFCC found that questionable cash withdrawals were made from the Joint State/Local Government account of the state.
For instance, the then Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government Affairs was alleged to have made cash withdrawals of over N2 billion in 181 different transactions, scattered in tranches of N3 million, N4 million, N8 million and N9 million per transaction from the joint account domiciled with First Bank between 29th of August 2011 and 2012.
He also allegedly made similar cash withdrawals amounting to over N500 million between March 6, 2008, and March 4, 2011, from another joint account domiciled in Keystone Bank.
Other officials of the ministry who allegedly looted the Joint Account include Justina Jari, a principal accountant, who made cash withdrawals to the tune of N600 million between October, 2009 and February, 2011.
Another staff of the ministry, Abdulhakeem Mohammed, was also alleged to have withdrawn about N3 billion from the joint account between February 2007 and May 2011. Two other staff, Mercy Wanje and Jumai Salihu were also said to have made withdrawals of N1 billion and N160 million from the account respectively.
On a single day, another staff, Haruna Hamali, a principal store officer made a cash withdrawal of over N70 million from the same account. The EFCC arrested many state officials in connection with the withdrawals and other ongoing investigations.
Abdulazeez Murtala Nyako
Mr. Abdulazeez is a true chip off the old block. The senator representing Adamawa Central Senatorial District is the first son of the embattled former governor.
The EFCC says while serving as governor, the elder Nyako allowed his son to dip his hands freely into the Adamawa State till to the extent that over N15billion were traced to accounts of five companies owned by the young man.
The companies included Blue Opal Nigeria Limited, Crust Energy Nigeria Limited, Blue Ribbon Multilinks Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Blue Ribbon Bureau De Change.
PREMIUM TIMES investigation shows that the illicit transfers were funneled into the accounts of Mr. Abdulazeez from the state government accounts domiciled in a new generation bank.
It was, therefore, not difficult for the Nyakos to rob Adamawa State blind because the branch manager of the bank who doubled as account officer to the state government account, is an in-law to the embattled former governor.
During vigorous interrogation, the bank manager admitted to transferring state funds through verbal instructions from the Elder Nyako for purposes that were not stated. The EFCC further found that from 2007 to 2011, former Governor Nyako directed that all state-owned accounts domiciled in various banks be transferred to the new generation bank.
Mr. Abdulaziz’s company, Blue Opal, is said to own, among other investments in Nigeria, an estate in Abuja, while his father’s account officer owns several properties and investments scattered around Abuja, Yola and Kano.
On February 4, the anti-graft agency declared Mr. Nyako and his son wanted in a case of criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering. Two weeks after the duo were declared wanted, Mr. Abdulazeez was arrested in Gombe and flown to Abuja to explain how a whopping N15 billion belonging to Adamawa State Government found its way into the accounts of five of his firms.
However, on February 24, the star witness against the former governor’s son, Maadi Dan-Tsoho, died with family sources attributing the death to asthma attack. Before his demise, Mr. Dan-Tsoho was suspended as regional manager of Zenith Bank, North-East operations for daring to testify against the all-powerful Abdulazeez.
The elder Nyako was arrested on July 8, and was charged to an Abuja High Court alongside his son and later remanded in the EFCC custody. On July 10, Justice E. Chukwu granted the duo bail with the sum of N350 million. While they now enjoy an administrative bail, it is not yet over for Mr. Nyako and his son.
Martin Elechi & Son
Martin Mr. Elechi was sworn in as the governor of Ebonyi State on May 29, 2007.
Trouble started for the former Ebonyi first family, when on January 29, the EFCC arrested Nnanna, the son of the former governor on allegations of money laundry.
Nnanna is alleged to be the face of the Elechis family’s firm which profited from state and local governments contracts running into billions of naira but which were never executed till May 29, when Mr. Elechi vacated office.
A week before the young Elechi was arrested, the anti-graft agency had quizzed the Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Works, Cornelius Onwe; while the state’s Accountant General, Edwin Igbele; Commissioner for Finance, Timothy Ogbonnaya Odaa; and Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Cele Nwali had earlier been being quizzed by commission in Abuja.
They were all fingered in allegations of fraud regarding an Asphalt Project earmarked for the 13 local government councils of the state by the Elechi administration for which monies running into millions of naira were deducted at source from local government accounts.
While the younger Elechi was yet to finish explaining to the EFCC how huge tranches of state and local government funds got to the accounts of his family firms, his father was battling to save his career as the state house of assembly was bent on removing him from office.
The assembly in February, based on petitions from groups in the state set up a panel to probe the former governor and some of his aides.
In one of the petitions, the then embattled governor, his son, Elechi Elechi, and Edward Nkwegu, among others, were accused of contract inflation and illegal use of state funds for private gains.
It was, however, the intervention of former President Goodluck Jonathan that saved Mr. Elechi from being removed from office by Ebonyi political heavy weights.
But on June 16, two weeks after he left office, Mr. Elechi was arrested by the EFCC and was questioned for hours in Abuja. He was granted “partial” bail on June 17 and asked to report to the commission the next week to again be quizzed.
Sule Lamido & Sons
Mr. Sule Lamido was elected governor of Jigawa State in 2007 and got re-elected for second term in 2011. Trouble started for him when his first son, Aminu was arrested by the EFCC in December 2012, with $50, 000 at the Aminu Kano International Airport Kano.
While Mr. Lamido failed to say why Mr. Aminu had that much money on him, he was quick to dismiss the money laundering allegations against his son as “false and mischievous.”
The former governor claimed Mr. Aminu was taking his daughter to an Egyptian hospital for a follow up treatment. He vehemently denied that his son was involved in money laundering. At that time too, some of his supporters claimed the former governor was being persecuted over his 2015 presidential ambition.
On November 15, 2013, barely one year after, Aminu and his brother, Mustapha, were arrested by the EFCC in Kano and flown to Abuja for interrogation at a time PREMIUM TIMES obtained disturbing details of how huge sums of money belonging to Jigawa State were moved in and out of 34 bank accounts by nine companies linked to the governor’s family members.
Between June 2010 and August 2013, for instance, over N1.5billion was paid into an account in Skye Bank belonging to Bamaina Aluminium Limited, a company which has Mr. Lamido and his sons; Aminu and Mustapha as directors. During the period, Mustapha made multiple lodgments into the account from the Jigawa State Government account.
Similarly, Bamaina Holdings Limited, whose account with Unity Bank has former Governor Lamido as sole signatory, recorded total cash lodgments of over N1.19 billion between February 2007 and July 2013, out of which about N1billion was, at various times during the period, paid out to other sister companies.
Equally, Bamaina Company Nigeria Limited, which has the governor, his two sons and one other person as directors, has another bank account with Mr. Mustapha as sole signatory. Between January 2010 and July 2013, over N500million withdrawals were made from the account, mostly by Mustapha.
Although registration documents did not link Rawda Integrated Services Limited to any known member of the Lamido family, the company’s account details with Access Bank showed that it was operated by Mustapha and one other person.
Between December 2008 and April 2009, over N32million was paid by the Jigawa State government into the account, which made several payments totaling over N50million to another company, Speeds International Limited, which has the governor and his two sons as directors.
Another account belonging to Rawda Integrated Services Limited in First City Monument Bank, FCMB, has a different signatory, with records of huge cash lodgments of over N2.6billion and several staggering withdrawals within two years.
Rawda also has another account in Zenith Bank, with Mustapha as signatory, with over N1.1billion paid in by different individuals and organizations between January 2007 and May 2013.
Another Lamido firm, Speeds International Limited held an account with Access Bank with Mustapha as its sole signatory. Investigation showed that the firm received total deposits of over N2.2billion between January 2007 and February 2010. This is apart from a dollar account it also maintains, which had total lodgments of over $346,700.
Saby Integrated Nigeria Limited is another company owned by the Lamidos, with Aminu as the sole signatory to its account with Fidelity Bank. Investigators said a total of over N600million was lodged into the account from several Jigawa State Government establishments between July 2010 and November 2012.
Some of the payments made into the account at different times included over N84million, over N300million, over N60million, over N48million and over N93million, while between January 2010 and August 2013 over N730million were paid into the account, 95 per cent of which were by different Jigawa State government institutions.
However, in August 2014, this news paper again stumbled on information on how a construction firm, Dantata and Sawoe, paid N1.3billion as kickback into the accounts of companies owned by former governor and his sons.
Between 2007, when Mr. Lamido assumed office, and 2014, Dantata and Sawoe Construction Company got contracts amounting to N13.5 billion. Payments for these contracts were made by the state government to the construction firm through five banks – Zenith, Access, Diamond, Sterling and United Bank for Africa, UBA.
Within the same period, according to EFCC investigators, Dantata and Sawoe paid out over N1.3 billion into the accounts of companies in which the governor and his sons – Mustapha and Aminu – have interests, specifically the accounts of Bamaina Holdings Limited where the elder Lamido is sole signatory and Speeds International Limited. Both accounts are domiciled in Unity Bank Plc.
Over N832 million was paid into these two accounts by the construction giant, while the balance of N488 million was paid into the family’s account at Access Bank. To disguise the nature of the payments, our checks show, the construction company raised cheques in favour of Bamaina Company Nigeria Limited, Speeds International Limited and Gada Construction Limited.
On July 7, the EFCC arrested the former governor and his two sons and moved them to Kano, where they were charged to court for fraud. Mr. Lamido and his two sons were later remanded in Kano Prisons from where they were again moved to Kuje Prisons.
It was, however, on July 14, that an Abuja high Court granted the former governor and his sons bail. Mr. Lamido, his two sons, and one other accused person, Abubakar Wada, were admitted to a N25 million bail bond each, in addition to a requirement that they submit their travel passport to the court.