From Agaju Madugba, Katsina
Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, has vowed to recover about N58.5 billion allegedly diverted by government officials during the immediate past administration of Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema.
Speaking on Saturday night, when he received a final report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry which probed financial dealings of the Shema administration, Masari described the diverted sum as capable of transforming the state, when recovered.
“The amount in question is so big that it cannot be a mistake. If we had such money, we would have transformed the state and made it much better than what it is now,” Masari said, and added that his government is set to forward a White Paper on the report to the Ministry of Justice, for legal consideration.
“Government will take immediate action on officials found to be involved and we will look at the system and those wrongs not connected to individuals would be checked to forestall future occurrence,” Masari said.
Submitting the report earlier, chairman of the commission, Ado Muhammad Maaji, explained that in the course of its sitting, the commission established that more than N17.9 billion was diverted under the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P) and that over N14.9 billion went unaccounted for, under the state Roads Maintenance Agency (KASROMA).
Maaji added that over N10.1 billion went unaccounted for while probing activities of the Ministry of Environment, departments of Community Development, Special Duties, Girl-Child Education, and Almajirai Affairs while an additional over N15.4 billion was lost or unaccounted for at the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and at the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).
“The bulk of the amount was withdrawn from state’s joint local governments’ account into ALGON account, and there was an instance of 87 cheques of between N9 million and N10 million, withdrawn in cash, on the same day.
“ Eighty-nine withdrawals were made on May 28, 2015, which was the eve of the last day of the previous administration in the state.
“The commission received a total of 13 memoranda. Memoranda one to seven and 12 were discountenanced, either as a result of withdrawal by their authors or due to the fact that they are not in tandem with the terms of reference of the commission.
“Memoranda numbers eight and eight (2) were on the activities of Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P).
“The author and presenter of the memo, Abdullahi Imam, testified before the commission and tendered relevant documents which were admitted in evidence.
“After careful analysis and evaluation of the testimony of the witness, the commission found that N17,968,309,520.90 was missing and unaccounted for in the SURE-P accounts.”
Masari inaugurated the panel in March 2016 and was given the task of investigating over N70 billion which the state government alleged got missing from the its coffers while the Shema administration lasted between 2007 and 2015.