Corruption: CSOs call for arrest, probe of Zamfara ex-governor, Yari

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Comrade Olufemi Lawson Executive Director, Centre for Public Accountability speaking at the press conference held at Radisson Blu Hotel, Lagos, on Sunday.

By Taiwo Okanlawon

The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations has called for immediate arrest and probe of former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari over monumental fraud allegedly perpetrated as the governor of the state, between 2011 and 2019.

The Coalition, comprising a conglomerate of 16 frontline Civil Society organisations, made this call at a press conference held in Lagos, on Sunday.

Speaking to pressmen at the conference, Comrade Olufemi Lawson Executive Director, Centre for Public Accountability urged the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, to as a matter of urgency, ensure that Yari have his days in court to answer the alleged corruption charges before him.

Recall that a Federal High Court, Abuja, earlier this month dismissed the suit seeking an order compelling the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate former Governor of Zamfara, Abdulaziz Yari, for alleged misappropriation of N900 billion.

Justice Okon Abang, in a judgment, dismissed the suit which was brought up by a group, Patriots for the Advancement of Peace and Social Development (PAPS) for lacking in merit.

However, Comrade Lawson, said the Coalition is aghast by the monumental fraud allegedly perpetrated by Yari, while in the office which was done so brazenly that the available evidence speak for itself.

He said, “Going by the series of revelation from our interactions with citizens and stakeholders in the state, supported by a document in our possession which we are going to distribute to you to aid your reportage how money meant for project and developments of Zamfara state was illegally diverted.

“It was done so brazenly that the available evidence speaks for itself, just like our learned colleagues would say, ‘Res Iqua Loquitor’ the fact speaks for itself.

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“As we gather here today, we are all are aware of the heightened threat of insecurity, occasioned by the activities of armed bandits particular in the northwest of our country, the recent being Thursday’s abduction of about 317 school girls.

“We are sad, that the issue of insecurity in Nigeria is becoming a threat to everyone, and we must not fold our arms while some elected public officials elected to serve us continue to deprive us of the basic needs because of their irresponsibility.”

The group also attributed the level of banditry in the state to the lackluster performance of the successive administrations in the state.

“Our focus is on Zamfara state because of the level of banditry in the state. Our findings, which were corroborated by Zamfara citizens indicated that the issue of banditry arose because of lackluster performance of the successive administrations in the state and became worse during the regime of the former Governor Abdulaziz Yari that he had to relocate from the state to Abuja, thereby abandoning Zamfara citizens to their fate.

“You will also recall, that it was widely reported recently that Mr Yari was invited and grilled by the EFCC for several hours over alleged criminal diversion of the state funds while in office. Our findings based on another document have shown how another N22.5bn was diverted from the coffers of the state which is now in the public domain.

“It’s pertinent to note that the N22.5bn in question was part of the refund from federal government being money expended on federal roads in Zamfara State. If this humongous amount has been plowed back into the state, it’s capable of boosting the economy and create opportunities to the teeming masses of our people in Zamfara State who are at the receiving end of bad governance over the years and now the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the already bad situation.

“There’s general feeling in Gusau that the probe of Yari and the recent discovery of humongous amount diverted at the twilight of his administration is responsible for the onslaught in the media against the current Governor.
Incidentally, the new EFCC Chairman, Abdurasheed Bawa was in charge in Lagos when Yari was allegedly grilled for hours. This is setting agenda for the new EFCC helmsman to tackle the corruption bedeviling the country frontally.

The group has, however, called on the public and proper authorities to beam their searchlight on this ugly trend in order for the anti-graft agency(s) to take action to serve as a deterrent.