Yahaya Bello’s 2023 Presidential Project and Emerging Financial Scandals

343 views | Akanimo Sampson | March 1, 2021

Simply put, pugilism is the art or practice of fighting with the fists, boxing. 2023 All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential aspirant and Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, is a lover of boxing. Though his love for sport is not in doubt, what is at the moment as far as his presidential project is concerned is integrity.

Bello’s integrity is being called to question and he has to clear himself beyond reasonable doubt before bracing to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023. The Kogi governor is a political associate of Buhari. They have been together since the days of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), one of the coalition political parties that formed APC.

The Buhari political associate is currently facing an uphill task in a damaging corruption allegation of laundering hundreds of millions of Kogi funds through proxies, state officials, award contracts without due process, award contracts to non-legal persons, and wanton circumvention of procurement procedures.

Bello was declared winner of the state’s 2015 governorship election after he was chosen on the platform of APC as the replacement for the late Abubakar Audu, who originally won the election but died before the result was declared. On November 16, 2019, Bello was re-elected after he defeated the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by over 200,000 votes. Last September 14, he was among a list of politicians placed on visa ban by the US State Department for undermining democracy in Nigeria.

Bello was expected to be a role model for young people in the country. By being the only Nigerian governor born after the Nigerian Civil War, that makes him the youngest governor in the country.  He was born June 18, 1975 in the Okene axis of his state. He is said to be the youngest of six children.

He started school with the Local Government Education Authority Primary School, Agassa in Okene Local Government Area in 1984. He was named as a class prefect of class two and was made the school Head Boy in class six. He also attended high school at Agassa Community Secondary School, Anyava, Agassa-Okene and obtained his Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination and Senior Secondary Certificate Examination certificates from Government Secondary School, Suleja, Niger State in 1994. At Kaduna State Polytechnic, Zaria, 1995, he studied and obtained an accounting degree from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1999, and thereafter, enrolled for a Masters programme in Business Administration (MBA) in 2002 at the same university. In 2004, Bello became a chartered Fellow of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria.

Alleged documented financial sharp practices by this Buhari political associate and APC presidential aspirant include, borrowing from non-capital markets, fraudulent loans, award of contracts to vested interests, payments without transaction descriptions and award of contracts to non existing companies.

Anti-Corruption Network, a Kogi based transparency group, is alleging that Bello ordered the transfer of a total of N735,596,904 to Sanusi Bello Ibrahim, without description with the highest sum as N134,101,935 on December 18, 2018 from the Government House Zenith Bank Account Number 1010662710.

According to the group, ”there was no transaction description attached to the transactions. The funds may have been laundered or diverted for other uses other than for public good. This is contrary to Treasury Circular No. TRY/A2&B2/2009/OAGF/CAD026/V of March 24, 2009 which states, “all procurement of stores and services exceeding N200,000.00 shall be made only through the award of contract.”

It also cited a circular Treasury with Ref. No. TRY/A2&A3/2013 OAGF/CAD/026/V.1/188 of April 9, 2013 which states, “cash advance in excess of N200,000.00 should not be granted to any officer for procurement of goods and services but the procurement should be given out as a contract”.

The anti-corruption group is equally alleging that Bello ordered the transfer of a total of N100 million to Philip Omeiza Salawu, in three tranches of N40 million, N10 million on January 30, 2018 and N50 million on June 8, 2018 from the state Statutory Revenue Account Number 1014558813 in Zenith Bank.

Salawu is however, a former deputy governor of the state who contested for the 2015 governorship seat on the platform of Labour Party. It is being alleged that he received the transfers without any transaction description attached. “There was no specified description for the purpose of the funds. The funds may have been laundered or diverted for other uses other than for public good.

‘’This is contrary to Treasury Circular No. TRY/A2&B2/2009/OAGF/CAD026/V of March 24, 2009 which states “all procurement of stores and services exceeding N200,000.00 shall be made only through the award of contract. Treasury Circular Ref. No. TRY/A2&A3/2013 OAGF/CAD/026/V.1/188 of April 9, 2013 states cash advance in excess of N200,000.00 should not be granted to any officer for procurement of goods and services but the procurement should be given out as a contract.

‘’Abdulganiyu Badamasuiy, withdrew a total of N182,250,000 with the highest sum as N44 million on November 9, 2018 from the Government House Account Number 1010662710 in Zenith Bank. There was no specified description for the purpose of the funds. The funds may have been laundered or diverted for other uses other than for public good. This is contrary to Treasury Circular No. TRY/A2&B2/2009/OAGF/CAD026/V of 24th March 2009 which states that “All procurement of stores and services exceeding N200,000.00 shall be made only through the award of contract”.

‘’Treasury Circular Ref. No. TRY/A2&A3/2013 OAGF/CAD/026/V.1/188 of April 9, 2013 emphasized that, cash advance in excess of N200,000.00 should not be granted to any officer for procurement of goods and services but the procurement should be given out as a contract.

“De-Kogi Goggle Production, Rc No.: 2265950 is a business name registered on July 17, 2013 under part B of CAMA. The business name is owned by Nwogu Barikisu, a Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Kogi. Investigation discovered that De-Kogi Goggle Production received a total of N270 million in 2019 from Govt House Zenith Bank account number 1010662710. This company was not declared in Barikisu’s Code of Conduct Bureau form which contravenes Section 11(1) of the Fifth Schedule, Part 1 of the 1999 Constitution.

‘’The section provides as follows: Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, every public officer shall three months after coming into force of this Code of Conduct or immediately after taking office and thereafter: (a) at the end of every four years, and (b) at the end of his term of office, submit to the Code of Conduct Bureau a written declaration of all his properties, assets and liabilities and those of his unmarried children under the age of eighteen years.

“That Barikisu uses the company to run private business contrary to Section 2(a) which bars a public officer from engaging or participating in the running of any private business, profession, or trade. As a business name, it is not eligible to receive such an amount of money”, the anti-corruption group reveals.

On award of contracts to non-existing companies, the group is alleging that Bright Eyes Montessori School received N25 million from the state VAT account number 0703377229 on May 27, 2019; Top Gas Petroleum Company N6,277,500 from the state IGR Main Account on April 30, 2019; Top Tuny Nigeria Enterprises paid N5.00 million from the state IGR Main Account on October 4, 2019; and Tower Building Product paid N5,300,000 from the state Joint Acct Allocation Committee DSRA Access bank account number 0712750840 on May 27, 2019.

On the allegation of illegally borrowing from the non-capital market, Sycamore Consulting Limited was allegedly incorporated to carry on taxation, accounting and financial advisory services only. But the firm loaned the state government a total of N3.9 billion in batches of N1.00 billion with the last batch as N1.9 billion on June 23, 2017 paid into the state IGR DSRA Access Bank Account.

“Sycamore Consulting Limited also loaned Kogi State Government N11,905,000,000 on June 30, 2017 paid into the state IGR DSRA Access Bank Account Number, which is exactly a week after the first billions of loan. By whatever means and form, style or character, Sycamore Consulting Limited is not authorised by law to loan money to anyone as it is not a financial institution nor is it a player in the Capital Market and non capital market.

“The purported loan to Kogi State is viewed as the company being a conduit pipe to Governor Bello. The total asset of the ‘borrowing company’ is not up to N1.00 billion, yet it borrowed the State Government N3.9 billion in just one day.

“On July 25, 2017, the sum of N287, 975,645.87 was paid back to Sycamore Consulting Limited by the Kogi State Government from its IGR DSRA account. One month after, on August 24, 2017, the sum of N287, 975,645.87 was paid again into Sycamore Consulting Limited by the Kogi State Government from its IGR DSRA account.

“On September 25, 2017, the sum of N258 million was paid into Sycamore consulting Limited by the Kogi State Government from its IGR DSRA account, and on November 23, 2017, the sum of N200 million was paid into Sycamore Consulting Limited by the Kogi State Government from its IGR DSRA account”, the group claimed.

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