The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is probing Senate President Bukola Saraki, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State and the Accountant-General of the state over how a N17billion bond secured by the State Government was spent.
The anti-graft agency suspects that part of the funds may have been diverted into private use.
The bond was intended to cover 13 projects and loan refinancing package during the tenures of Saraki as governor and Ahmed,his successor.
According to a report by The Nation, the investigation is digging into what has become of the N2billion Asa Dam Mixed Use Development Project and the Ilorin Water Distribution Project which has gulped N3.736billion but without water to drink by residents.
The EFCC has already interrogated the Secretary to the State Government, two Permanent Secretaries, the Accountant-General of the state, and about three contractors.
All those invited were said to have made “voluntary statements.”
Two ex-commissioners and two members of the House of Representatives may be arrested by the anti-graft agency in connection with the affected projects.
But a source in government in Kwara State claimed that EFCC is on a “wild goose chase because the bond has been fully repaid since 2014 without any outstanding liability for the people of Kwara State.
“We suspect sheer politics and a plot to intimidate Saraki and Ahmed because 2019 polls are around the corner.”
The fact-sheet sighted by our correspondent listed the affected projects as Aviation College –(N1.5b budgeted, N2.448, 663, 386.56b spent); Asa Dam Mixed Use Development Project (N2b); Kwara State University (N1b); Ilorin Water Distribution Project (N2b allocated, N3.736b spent); Shonga Irrigation Project (N2.9b allocated, N882.9 million paid to contractor); Kwara Advanced Diagnostic Centre( N750m allocated, N1.861b spent); Urban roads (N1.5b allocated but N1.609b spent); Rural and Feeder roads(N200m); Ilorin Metropolitan Street Lights Project(N250m); Kwara Vocational Centre (N650m); Loan refinancing (No evidence of payment of N2.4b to AFDB); Ilorin Township Stadium Project—N1b allocated but N1, 117 430, 700.54 spent; Electrification Project—N462, 144, 291.10; Kwara Mall Project—N500m allocated, $2m deposit in another account
The fact-sheet said: “We are investigating a petition forwarded by the Code of Conduct Bureau, Abuja. It was alleged that the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed and the incumbent Accountant-General of Kwara State allegedly conspired and misappropriated N17billion raised through bond in 2009.
“Letters of invitation were sent to the Secretary to the State Government, the Accountant-General of the state as well as Permanent Secretaries for ministries that handled the projects.
Some snippets of the investigation include the following:
“Asa Dam Mixed Use Development project: The project had N2billion allocated from the bond. However the sum of N83.688 431.68 was spent on consultancy by ECAD Designs Limited and nothing else was done.
“Ilorin Water Distribution Project was allocated N2, 000,000,000. However, N3, 736,505,126.49 was spent on the project. The only contractor for the project was C.G.C Nigeria Limited. An analysis of the Kwara state Government’s First Bank of Nigeria Plc account revealed that the sum of N1billion was paid to C.G.C apparently for the project. Investigation is still ongoing.
“Another project which benefitted from the bond was Kwara State University with a N1billion vote. But a total of N1, 675 607.905 23 was spent. The project had the following contractors: Charvet Nigeria Limited, Akit technology Limited, Integrated Concept Limited, Golden Consult and the University Itself.
“The project was handled by the Ministry of Works and the Commissioner as at the time was one Kolawole Abdulrauf Shitttu. Investigation revealed that Mr. Shittu and one Engr. Akintola Taiwo are both directors and the accounts signatories to a company called PTL Consult Limited. “Shittu is also a signatory to another company called Strudev Consultancy Services. Analysis of the companies’ accounts and the Mr. Shittu’s personal account revealed that transfers were made by Charvet Nigeria Limited and Archon Nigeria Limited; the two companies were among the contractors of the University Project.
“The Managing Director at Archon was invited and he stated that he was the project manager for the construction of the Kwara State University and that he was informed by the State Government that PTL Consult is the consultant on the project and that he worked with Engr. Taiwo during the period which was why they made payments to PTL Consults’ account. Efforts are being made to arrest Mr. Shittu.”
Concerning Kwara Mall, the fact-sheet claimed that the project was allocated N500million and the entire sum was utilized by the Ministry of Commerce.
It added: “The Permanent Secretary was unable to provide us with details of how the money was spent but did state that they were in partnership with a private company; Persians Investments Limited and that the Kwara Mall was constructed and is being fully utilized. A search of the company showed that they were into real estate and property management; parts of their properties included Kwara Mall, Viva cinema, Polo Park Enugu among others. Analysis of the company bank statement showed N500million paid to the company by the Kwara State Government on the 10th of June 2010. While the investigation is ongoing, the sum of two million USD $2,000,000 deposit was traced to one of the company’s account. The depositor is being tracked by detectives and all relevant agencies.”
Regarding the irrigation project, the EFCC detectives alleged that the “document recovered from the Accountant-General did not show this project but the Permanent Secretary stated that the project also known as Shonga Irrigation Project was handled by the Ministry and the contract was awarded to C.G.C Nigeria Limited for N2,998,966,827. However, only N882, 944,215 was paid to the company. He further stated that the project was later taken over by the Federal Government.
On the International Aviation College, whose licence was suspended recently, the detectives in their report said it was allocated N1.5billion from the bond but N2,448.663.386.56 was spent in on the construction and purchase of equipment.
“Contractors that handled the project were: Godab Nigeria Limited. Henry George Nigeria Limited, ECAD Design (Consultants) and the college itself. The College is alleged to be fully owned by the Kwara State Government and registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) R C; 746511. Its board included the current State Governor, Ministry of Finance, Mr. Razak Atunwa (a former commissioner in the state) Popoola Captain Shadrack Taiwo and Yusuf Tunde. The registrar of the college was invited for an interview and questioned on the finances of the college as well as aspects in which the college handled during the construction of the college. He stated that the bursar of the school died recently but most contracts were handled by one Harlequin Aviation Information Service Limited (HAIS).
“A search at the company found that one Yusuf Tunde is a Director as well as signatory to the accounts of the company: he is also a Board member of the Aviation College. Based on this the accounts of HAIS were placed on caution and the company’s representative is to report for an interview on the 30th of August 2018.
The report clarified the status of loan refinancing by the state government.
It said: “The prospectus of the bond stated that Kwara state had indebtedness of N4, 980,000 in external loans out of which N3.3billion amounted to legacy obligations preceding the then administration They proposed utilizing N2, 400,000,000 from the bond proceeds of the bond to service part of the legacy obligations which were (a) African Development Bank(AFDB)- construction of four specialist hospitals in Jebba, Offa, Oke-Ode and Sobi at a cost of N1,440, 828, 000; (b) AFDB-equipment procurements to the four specialist hospitals; ( C) World Bank Essential Drug Projects.
“The total debt was N3, 301, 162, 42. Only Documents obtained from the Accountant-General of the State did not show any indication that monies were paid to AfDB or the World Bank instead another list with heading ‘OTHER PAYMENT’ showed the names of Government Agencies and private companies being paid a total of N974, 896,343.47.
“The companies were invited. One of the companies, Lolada Investment Limited reported and stated that they were awarded a contract valued at N285, 652, 200 by the Kwara state Government to install CCTV system for Ilorin metropolitan.