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Matawalle vs Bawa: Much Ado about $2m Bribe

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By Eric Elezuo

The last has not been heard of the imbroglio between the governor of Zamfara State and the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, over an alleged bribe to the tune of $2 million.

Matawalle has accused the EFCC boss of demanding a $2 million bribe from him following a case of corruption leveled against the governor, an allegation the graft has denied.

Recall that the embattled governor, who has lost his bid to return to office for second term, is being investigated by the anti-corruption agency for allegedly pocketing N70 billion from the Zamfara State government coffers. An amount said to have been borrowed supposedly for projects in the state

The EFCC said the governor allegedly siphoned Zamfara’s funds sourced as a loan from an old-generation bank purportedly for the execution of projects in local governments in the state. The EFCC said the governor used proxies who posed as contractors for the projects and got paid, but did not execute the projects.

The matter took a twist when the governor revealed that the boss of the anti-corruption agency, was demanding a whopping amount of $2 million to let him off the hook

Matawalle, in an interview with BBC Hausa on Friday accused Bawa, of asking for the bribe, adding that the EFCC boss, who according to him, is not an honest person, was only busy targeting governors while turning a blind eye to federal officers with budgetary allocations.

“It is not just to always blame governors. It is not only governors who have treasury, the federal government also has. What does the EFCC boss do to them? As he is claiming he has evidence on governors, let him show the world evidence of those at the federal level.

“If he exits office, people will surely know he is not an honest person. I have evidence against him. Let him vacate the office, I am telling you within 10 seconds probably more than 200 people will bring evidence of bribes he collected from them. He knows what he requested from me but I declined.

“He requested a bribe of two million dollars from me and I have evidence of this. He knows the house we met, he invited me and told me the conditions. He told me governors were going to his office but I did not. If I don’t have evidence, I won’t say this,” Matawallehad told the BBC.

However, in a swift response, the EFCC denied the allegation through a statement signed by the Commission’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, and dared the governor to provide evidence to back his claim. Mr Uwujaren said the commission will not be drawn into a mud fight with a suspect under investigation for corruption and unconscionable pillage of the resources of his state.

The statement reads: “The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been drawn to a trending interview granted to the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, by Bello Muhammed Matawalle, governor of Zamfara State, where he allegedly made wild bribery allegations against the Executive Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa.

“Matawalle’s recourse to mudslinging is symptomatic of a drowning man clutching at straws. But despite the irritation of his phantom claims, the Commission will not be drawn into a mud fight with a suspect under its investigation for corruption and unconscionable pillage of the resources of his state.

“If Matawalle will be taken seriously, he should go beyond sabre-rattling by spilling the beans – provide concrete evidence as proof of his allegations,” Mr Uwujaren’s statement revealed.

Matawalle, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), had in March accused the Federal Government of using the military to rig the Zamfara governorship election for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He further said that the government at the centre was not happy with him for going to court over the newly resigned naira notes, and so decided to punish him for his position.

The Zamfara governor, Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, the Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje and Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, had dragged the Federal Government to the Supreme Court over the scarcity of cash occasioned by the CBN’s cashless policy.

“What’s being said is that we went to court over the new naira notes redesign. They said myself, Ganduje and El-Rufai would be punished accordingly,” the embattled had alleged.

He added, “Three days to the gubernatorial election, they sent over 300 vehicles conveying soldiers into Zamfara.

“Such a high number of soldiers! If they could send them to us to fight insecurity, it would be better. But they only sent them during elections.”

In November, 2022, Bawa was convicted by Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, presided over by Justice Chizoba Oji, and ordered to be committed to Kuje correctional facility.

He was convicted for contempt of court in relation to EFCC’s failure to comply with an earlier order of the court.

Justice Oji, in a ruling, held that “the Chairman Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is in contempt of the orders of this honourable court made on November 21st 2018 directing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abuja to return to the applicant his Range Rover (Super charge) and the sum of N40, 000,000.00 (Forty Million Naira).

Again, in February 2013, Bawa was jailed by the Kogi State High Court in Lokoja has for disobeying its order.

The court also directed the Inspector General of Police to arrest Bawa and remand him in Kuje prison, Abuja, for the next 14 days.

The judge, Rukayat Ayoola, ordered that Mr Bawa be detained in prison “until he purges himself of the contempt”, meaning until he clears himself of the contempt for which he was jailed.

Ms Ayoola issued the committal order based on an application filed by one Ali Bello accusing Bawa of disobeying a court ruling by going ahead to arraign him on 15 December 2022 against an earlier court order made on 12 December 2022.

While the accusation and denial between Matawalle and Bawa lasts, one is obvious, and that is one of the parties is either lying or speaking the truth. Who? Matawalle or Bawa?

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Economic Hardship: Sanwo-Olu Slashes Transport by 25%, Approves 3-Day Work Week

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Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has announced a 25 per cent slash in transport fares for government-owned transport schemes.

Sanwo-Olu, who made this announcement during a live media chat tagged: ‘Sanwo Speaks,’ on Thursday, said that civil servants from levels 1–14 will begin to work three days a week as part of measures to ease the economic challenges.

He explained that the forum was meant to intimate residents of measures adopted to reduce the economic burden on Lagosians.

The governor noted that workers in the teaching sector will, however, maintain the five-day-a-week work schedule, while the government will ensure additional transportation support for them.

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Hardship Caused by APC under Buhari, Reason Tinubu’s Unable to Speak Out, Says Gbenga Daniel

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The Senator representing Ogun East senatorial district, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, has expressed his wish that President Bola Tinubu should speak on the already failed economy he inherited from former President Muhammadu Buhari, detailing the efforts he has put in to strengthen the economy since assuming office.

Senator Daniel added that Tinubu has refrained from speaking because the same party he is standing for, was largely responsible for the misdeeds in the past.

The former Governor of Ogun State noted that Tinubu could not talk about the realities at the moment, pleading with Nigerians to persevere and show understanding and cooperation with the present administration as it remains committed to a more prosperous nation.

He further appealed to Nigerians to encourage the president, emphasising that he has done a lot in salvaging the country.

Daniel, who admitted hardship in the country, hinted that the menace was caused by the past government but hoped for better days.

“Our President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has done a lot. I wish he could talk now but he can’t talk because this is the same party he stood for, so he can’t; but from what I know we just have to praise his courage. We know things are very difficult but we need to encourage Mr. President, we urge our people to be patient, by the special grace of God everything will be alright.”

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Atiku’s Aide Accuses Tinubu’s Govt of Diverting Funds Through Fake Petrol Subsidy

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Phrank Shaibu, a Special Assistant on Public Communication to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, has alleged that the refusal of the Federal government to react to recent reports on the return of petrol subsidy shows that public funds have started going into private pockets.

Shaibu made the allegation through a statement while reacting to reports by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the Nigerian government has begun paying petrol subsidy again.

According to media reports, monthly subsidy payment is nearly N1 trillion, far in excess of exceeds the amount paid monthly by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Reacting to the allegation, Shaibu said it has become clear that one of the reasons the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited has not been paying the required amount of money into the government’s account is because monies are being diverted under an opaque and secret subsidy regime.

He alleged: “Tinubu has been boasting at every economic forum that he deserves to be in the Guinness Book of records for removing petrol subsidy.

“He even said before ringing the closing bell at NASDAQ in New York last September that the ‘corrupt subsidy’ regime and FX issues had been resolved.

“But as every other thing relating to Tinubu, this has turned out to be another lie from the pit of hell. Currently, the exchange rate based on what the Central Bank of Nigeria recommended to the Nigeria Customs Service is N1515/$1.

“Hence diesel price is now over N1,200 but petrol is still selling for between N600 and N700.

“Nigeria is the only country in the world where such disparity between diesel and petrol exists. It has become obvious that petrol subsidy has returned through the backdoor.

“With the return of petrol subsidy, oil marketers have opted out and that is why the NNPC has returned to being the sole importer of petrol once more and has the temerity to be announcing that it will not increase petrol cost regardless of the international price of crude oil and the exchange rate.

“To be clear, petrol subsidy in itself is not a bad thing when it is done transparently.”

Shaibu added: “Former CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi, expressed shock last month that NNPC was still not remitting FX into government’s accounts.

“It is now obvious why this has been happening. Subsidy has returned but it is now being done in a corrupt and secret manner as funds are now being diverted into private pockets even worse than under Buhari. This is the Tinubu Lagos legacy from Lagos State.”

Shaibu said it was disappointing that the Finance Minister, Wale Edun; and CBN Governor, Yemi Cardoso, who both claimed to have gotten their appointments based on their expertise had failed to speak up but had continued to cover up the petrol subsidy.

He also alleged that the Tinubu government had continued to frustrate the takeoff of the Dangote refinery which would have at least reduced Nigeria’s FX demands.

“The media reported last week that lingering regulatory approvals have stalled Dangote Petrochemical Refinery’s plan to release aviation fuel (Jet A1) and diesel for sale in the Nigerian market.

“At the same time, Dangote refinery has been struggling to get the needed crude oil and has decided to import from the United States while the NNPC which has no business with monetary policy, committed Nigeria’s crude oil for a $3.3 billion Afreximbank loan ostensibly to stabilise the naira.

“It is obvious that Tinubu and his so-called economic team are quacks, charlatans who put their personal interest ahead of that of the country. With such Lilliputians at the helm of affairs, Nigeria’s economic woes are about to go from bad to worse,” Shaibu added.

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