Nigeria: How Zamfara Governor Allegedly Purchased Multi-Billion Naira Abuja Properties With Funds Linked to the State’s Treasury

The nation’s top anti-graft agency had gathered and presented to the court seemingly incontrovertible evidence that Mr Bello Matawalle laundered Zamfara State’s money running into billions of naira

Mr Bello Mohammed Matawalle, the Governor of Zamfara State has recently been in the news for the wrong reasons. The unsavoury reports ranged from his controversial proscription of political campaigns and unlawful banning of some media houses in the state to the current allegation of diverting billions of naira belonging to the state for the purchase of choice properties in Abuja Federal Capital City. The embattled governor has been under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged money laundering. The governor however, received a temporary reprieve when Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in a ruling read on Friday, 14 October, 2022, restrained the EFCC from confiscating six prime properties in Abuja which were traced to him.

Delivering the judgment, Justice Ekwo said: “From the position of the law, especially Section 308 of the Constitution, EFCC has no other option than to wait till the end of the tenure of office of the respondent.”

The nation’s top anti-graft agency had gathered and presented to the court seemingly incontrovertible evidence that Mr Bello Matawalle laundered Zamfara State’s money running into billions of naira to acquire the following six prime plots of land in Abuja Federal Capital Territory (FCT): (A) Plot 729, Idu Industrial Layout; (B) Plot 1327, Cadastral Zone A05, Maitama District; (C) Plot 2934, Cadastral Zone A06, Maitama District; (D) Plot 730, Cadastral Lone A06 Maitama District; (E) Plot 2804b, Cadastral Zone A06, Maitama District & (F) Plot 515, Cadastral Zone B00, Kukwaba District.

The litigation Officer of the EFCC had deposed to an oath before the Court and stated that by his position, he was conversant and familiar with the facts and circumstances in an application by the Commission for the respondent to forfeit in the interim the above properties in the schedule herein under section 17 (1) (2) (3) and (4) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offenses Act, 2006.

The EFCC informed the Court that sometime in October 2021, it received intelligence report from a patriotic Nigerian that the incumbent Zamfara State, Mr Bello Mohammed Matawalle was unlawfully using State funds to acquire several properties worth billions of naira in the nation’s capital city, Abuja.

The intelligence report revealed that between October 2020 and December 2020, the Ministry of Finance, Zamfara State, allegedly transferred a total sum of Two billion, one hundred and seventeen million, seven hundred and fifty-one naira (N2, 117, 751,000:00) into the Zenith Bank account number 1017028409 of the Directorate of Investment and Business Development, Office of the Executive Governor, Government House, Gusau, Zamfara State. A copy of the statement of account of the Directorate of Investment and Business Development was attached by the Commission and marked as Exhibit EFCC 3.

Sometime in November 2020, one Mr Abubakar Halliru was said to have contacted one Mr Sani Bako to use his company (Aceworld Consult and Integrated Services Limited) to receive money from the above Zamfara State Government and launder the same by the purchase of properties in Abuja. Again, a copy of the statement of Sani Bako was attached by the EFCC and marked as Exhibit EFCC 4.

Following the agreement, the sum of One billion, seven hundred and sixty-three million naira (N1,763, 000, 000:00) was deposited into the account of Aceworld Consult & Integrated Services Limited on 11 and 16 of December, 2020 respectively from the bank account of the Directorate of Investment and Business Development, Office of the Executive Governor, Government House, Gusau, Zamfara State. A copy of the Zenith Bank Statement of AceworId Consult & Integrated Services was similarly attached by the Commission and marked as Exhibit EFCC 5.

On 14 December 2020, Mr. Sani Bako (MD of Aceworld Consult & Integrated Services Limited) acting on the instruction of Mr Abubakar Haliru, transferred the sum of Three hundred and fifty million naira (N350,000,000:00) into the Providus Bank account number 5400550513 of Fezel Nigeria Ltd. as part payment for the purchase of Plot 729, Idu industrial Estate, Abuja, on behalf of Mr Bello Matawalle. A copy of the Providus Bank statement of account of Fezel Nig. Ltd was attached by the Commission and marked as Exhibit EFCC 6.

Furthermore, sometime in December 2020, Mr Abubakar Haliru contacted one Ashafa Saidu, an unregistered bureau de change (BDC) operator, to allegedly receive funds from the said Zamfara State Government account and launder same for the purchase of properties in Abuja on behalf of the governor.

Based on the preceding agreement, according to the EFCC affidavit, Mr Abubakar Haliru also allegedly handed over hundreds of thousands of United States Dollars (USD) to Mr Ashafa Saidu which the latter handed over to Sa’adu A. Sadiq on 4 December, 2020 for conversion into naira for onward transfer into the account of vendors for the purchase of Plot 729, Idu Industrial Estate, Abuja. A copy of the statement of Ashafa Sa’idu was attached by the Commission and marked as Exhibit EFCC 7.

Mr Ashafa Saidu, Chief Executive of ASG Yanware Ventures, said to be an unlicensed BDC operator, contacted his colleagues Sa’adu A. Sadiq Sadiq & Sons, AZA Yanware Ventures Enterprises, Naziru Aliyu Ibrahim, Mohammed Yahuza, and B Goni Multi Services Limited to receive and launder money on behalf of Mr Abubakar Haliru for the purchase of Plot 729, Idu Industrial Estate, Abuja.

Based on the agreement in the preceding paragraphs, Aceworld Consult & integrated Services Limited, acting under the instruction of Mr Abubakar Haliru allegedly transferred the rest of the money it received from the Directorate of Investment and Business Development, Office of the Governor of Zamfara State, amounting to over One billion, four hundred million naira (N1, 400, 000, 000:00) into various bank accounts of unregistered BDC operators such as AZA Yanware Enterprises, Doura & Sons Global Enterprises, B Goni Multi Services Limited, Mohammed Yahuza, Marisco Global Enterprise and Gandankanya Global Concept.

AZA Yanware Enterprises, Mohammed Yahuza, and B Goni Multi Services Limited received a total sum of Six hundred and thirty-one million naira (N631, 000, 000:00) as part of the N1, 763. 000, 000:00 sent into the account of Aceworld Consult & Integrated Services Ltd.

Having received the sum of One billion, four hundred million naira (N1,400,000,000:00), Saidu Ashafa transferred the sum of Three hundred and fifty-three million naira (N353,000,000.00) into the Providus bank account of the Fezel Nig. Ltd allegedly on behalf of Gov. Matawalle for the purchase of Plot 729 Idu Industrial Estate.

Between 4 December 2020, and 9 December 2020, Sa’idu A. Sadiq & Sons transferred additional sum of Three hundred and thirty-five million naira (N335, 000, 000:00) into the Providus Bank account 54005505 of Fezel Nig. Ltd for the purchase of the said Plot 729 Idu industrial Estate allegedly for Gov. Matawalle.

Mr Ashafa Sa’idu allegedly acting on the instruction of Abubakar Haliru caused one Ibrahim Naziru Aliyu, a BDC operator, to deposit the sum of Sixty million naira (N60, 000. 000:00) into the Providus Bank account number 54005505 of Fezel Nig. Ltd for the purchase of Plot 729 Idu industrial Estate allegedly for Mr Matawalle.

AZA Yanware Enterprises further transferred the total of One hundred and nine million, nine hundred and eighty thousand naira (N109, 980, 000:00) into the account of Fezel Nig. Ltd for the purchase of Plot 729 Idu industrial Estate allegedly for Gov. Matawalle.

ASG Yanware Ventures acting on the instruction of Sa’idu Ashafa, transferred a total of Thirty-two million naira (N32, 000, 000:00) into the Providus Bank account of Fezel Nig Ltd for the purchase of Plot 729 Idu Industrial Estate allegedly for Gov. Matawalle.

Sani Ibrahim Muhammad allegedly transferred the sum of Twenty nine million (N29, 250, 000), two hundred and fifty thousand naira) into the Providus Bank account of Fezel Nig. Ltd for the purchase of Plot 729 Idu industrial Estate allegedly for the Governor.

Based on the alleged arrangement between Ashafa Sa’idu & Abubakar Haliru, the bureau de change operators deposited the total sum of Nine hundred and fifty-nine million, two hundred and thirty thousand naira (N959, 230, 000.00) into the Providus Bank account of Fezel Nig. Ltd for the purchase of Plot 729 ldu Industrial Estate allegedly for MatawaIle. A copy of the chart showing the laundering of the funds from the Zamfara State Government account was attached by the Commission and marked as Exhibit EFCC 8.

Aceworld Consult Integrated Services transferred a total sum of Two hundred and seventy million naira (N270, 000, 000.00) to Mohammed Yahuza’s bank account an unlicensed BDC operator towards the purchase of the said properties for the Governor.

Aceworld Consult Integrated Services transferred a total sum of Two hundred and eleven million naira (N211,000,000:00) to Goni Multi Services Ltd’s bank account (an unlicensed BDC operator) allegedly for the purchase of properties allegedly for the governor.

Aceworld Consult Integrated Services further transferred a total sum of Two hundred and eighty million naira (N280,000,000:00) to Gondankaya Global Concept Ltd’s bank account (another unlicensed BDC operator) allegedly for the purchase of properties for Matawalle.

Aceworld Consult Integrated Services according to the EFCC, transferred the total sum of Two hundred and seventy million naira (N270,000,000:00) to Daura Sons Global Enterprises’ bank account (an unlicensed bureau de change operator) for the purchase of properties allegedly for Governor Matawalle.

Aceworld Consult Integrated Services equally transferred a total sum of One billion, two hundred million naira (N1, 200, 000, 000:00) to S. Morisco Enterprises’ bank account (an unlicensed BDC operator) purportedly for the purchase of properties for the governor

Aceworld Consult Integrated Services transferred a total sum of One billion, two hundred and thirty-one million naira (N1, 231, 000, 000.00) to unlicensed BDC operators on the instruction of Mr Abubakar Haliru for the purchase of the properties listed in the schedule to the EFCC’s application for Interim Forfeiture for the alleged benefit of Governor Matawalle.

The property at Plot 515 Cadastral Zone B00, Kukwaba comprising 8.78 hectares was acquired from the original allottee by Belsha Printing Press Limited (a company allegedly belonging to Gov. Matawalle) who entered into joint development of the property with PeachVille Platinum Limited. A copy of the agreement between Belsha Printing Press and PeachVille Platinum Press Limited was attached by the Commission and marked as Exibit EFCC 9.

Prior to the foregoing damning revelations by the EFCC, the Commission had an unfinished business with the Zamfara Governor, Mr Matawalle. He was charged in the #Dasuki arms procurement deal that resulted in the embezzlement of $2 billion through the office of the National Security Adviser under the leadership of Colonel Sambo Dasuki, the former National Security Adviser.

With the latest court ruling, the commission is believed to be patiently waiting for Governor Matawalle’s tenure to elapse, so that he would answer for his alleged misdoings. Also, some relief had come the way of some of the respondents to the charges as the court has held that the commission should cease from sealing off the properties without first obtaining court order. According to Justice Ekwo, the EFCC could conduct its investigation without sealing off the properties and disrupting businesses of the occupants.

So far, the persons arrested in connection with the alleged fraudulent property deals were profiled, interviewed and granted bail. EFCC said in August 2022 that one of the persons arrested in connection with the case, one Evelyn Odagundoye initially denied working for Mr Matawalle but that it was established later through forensic analysis on her phone that she was running the business (Beisha) on the property for Matawalle.

Source:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.