The Zamfara State Government has raised the alarm over the diversion of N10bn earmarked for the construction of a state university under the administration of former governor Abdulaziz Yari.
The government said it is also tracking the whereabouts of over N37 billion refunds on Federal Government projects executed byZamfara and has sought the help of anti-graft agencies.
The alarm was raised by the Commissioner for Finance in the state, Alhaji Rabiu Garba, when he briefed journalists in Gusau, the state capital, on Tuesday.
According to him, financial records showed that the money was allocated and transferred in two tranches but the money was diverted.
The commissioner said the amount was initially quoted at over N47 billion as the funds used by the former administration in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of 14 federal roads in the state.
Garba said, “Based on the records available to us, the past administration in the state had diverted the sum of N10.8bn from the N37bn refunded to the state by the Federal Government for the construction of 14 federal roads.
“We learned that in May 2019, N10.8bn was transferred to the university’s projects account by the past administration in the name of construction of state university.
“The amount was transferred in two tranches, that is N5 billion each, and subsequently, N850m was also transferred to the same account on 9th May 2019.
“But instead that the amount transferred to be used for the said project, the money was diverted to other issues that have nothing to do with the university project.
“We understood that the cost of the verified projects at the Federal Ministry of Works stood at over N37 billion.
“But when we asked for refunds of the said amount, it was confirmed by both the Federal Ministry of Works and the Debt Management Office that the amount had been paid fully.
“On further investigation, we gathered that the money was collected by the Director-General of Nigerian Governors’ Forum and one lady who also worked in the same place on instructions from the former Zamfara government.
“We wonder how people who are not indigenes of the state nor have they ever worked for the state should collect such a colossal amount on behalf of the government and people of Zamfara,’’ the commissioner said.
In an attempt to exonerate the past administration of any wrongdoing, the former Commissioner of Finance in the Yari led government, Alhaji Muktar Idris spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Idris said that the immediate past administration constructed the roads at the cost of over N60 billion and claimed the same amount from the Federal Government.
“But a federal government verification committee only approved N37.4 billion refunds which were on completed projects.
“Due to dearth of funds to repay such projects to about 23 states, which stood at over N500 billion, it was agreed at the governors’ forum that the states would collect the refunds in two tranches via promissory notes that would mature in three years.
“The states were to receive 40 per cent in the first instalment, in which Zamfara’s due amount stood at N14.9 billion.
“All the affected state governors also agreed that the director-general of the Governors’ Forum should collect for them.
“I still have the documents with me where we put over N10 billion as discounted from N14.9 billion into our joint account because we needed the money.
“So, we discounted and collected the amount through the Debt Management Office, Idris told NAN.
He explained further that the second promissory note was for N22 billion which was also discounted to a little over N17 billion.
“All the money had been deposited into the state government’s accounts.
“Zamfara people are free to check and verify these facts,’’ he said.