Barely one week before the change of administration in some states, Nigeria's anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has launched investigations into the activities of outgoing governors and their deputies.
Meanwhile, Reporters reported on November 17, 2022, that the EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa announced that the number of governors on their watchlist had increased from its previous number.
Also in November, the EFCC said it was monitoring at least three serving governors who hoarded billions of naira in various houses.
Multiple sources later identified the governors as Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State and Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, as exclusively reported by newsmen.
Although he did not mention the number of governors being monitored by the anti-graft agency, Bawa said the EFCC was pleased with the move by the Central Bank of Nigeria to redesign some naira notes.
However, based on an exclusive memo it obtained reported that the anti-corruption agency is beaming its searchlight on 28 governors and their deputies, out of which 18 governors and their deputies would hand over to newly elected governors and their deputies on May 29, after which their constitutional immunity will expire.
Nigeria has 36 states and each is governed by a governor with support from their dedeputy.
At least 18 of the governors with their deputies targeted for investigations by EFCC are preparing to leave office when they complete their second terms in office on May 29. One is leaving office after completing a term, while 10 others, who recently won their second term elections, are expected to remain in office for the next four years.
The anti-graft agency, according to the paper has requested their assets declaration forms from the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), in official communication between the two agencies.
Details of the cases EFCC has against the officials are not immediately made clear, but the commission said in its letter addressed to the chairperson of CCB, Mohammed Isah, that it needs the asset declaration documents to facilitate an ongoing investigation involving them.
“This commission is investigating a case in which persons listed in the attached schedule. featured,” read the EFCC’s letter dated 11 April and signed by an official on behalf of the EFCC’s chair, Abduralsheed Bawa.
The letter signed by Umma Sulaiman of the Proceeds of Crime Management Department of the EFCC, and exclusively obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, contains an annexure of a list of governors with their deputies who either took office in 2015 or 2019.
It requested the asset declaration forms submitted at the beginning and the end of the current tenure of the governors and their deputies.
“In order to facilitate the investigation, you are kindly requested to furnish the commission with the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the Asset Declaration Forms filled by each of the subject for period stated against their respective names.
“Also, you are to forward the Bureau’s examination/verification report of the declared asset,” the letter read, citing section 38(1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004, as the basis for the request.
The paper, however, could not confirm if the CCB had responded to EFCC’s letter, although the acknowledgement copy of the letter viewed by the newspaper shows the bureau received it on April 11.
Meanwhile, Reporters on May 18 reported that the EFCC announced that Zamfara State, Governor Bello Matawalle was under investigation for alleged N70 billion fraud.
EFCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Osita Nwajah, said allegations against Mr Matawalle include “corruption, award of phantom contracts and diversion of over N70 billion.
Matawalle, however, hit back at the anti-graft agency, accusing the EFCC chairman of demanding $2 million as a bribe from him.
The outgoing governor, who lost his re-election bid in March, however, denied any wrongdoing and asked the anti-graft agency to probe ‘officers of the presidency’ and members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
But the commission in response described Mr Matawalle’s outburst as the case of a “thief” saying he must not be touched until other “thieves’’ are caught and dared the governor to provide evidence to support his claim.
The spokesperson for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren said the commission would not be drawn into a mud fight with a “suspect under investigation for corruption and unconscionable pillage of the resources of his state”.
Mr Matawalle, the Zamfara governor, and his deputy, Hassan Gusau, are among the 28 governors the EFCC is investigating according to the report.
Other governors on the list include Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike; Kano governor, Abdullahi Ganduje; Kebbi governor, Abubakar Bagudu; Niger governor, Abubakar Bello; Benue governor, Samuel Ortom; Cross River governor, Benedict Ayade; Ebonyi governor, Dave Umahi; Abia governor, Okezie Ikpeazu; Delta governor, Ifeanyi Okowa; Adamawa governor, Ahmadu Fintiri; Lagos governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Kaduna governor, Nasir El-Rufai; Bauchi governor, Bala Mohammed; Katsina governor, Aminu Masari and Plateau governor, Simon Lalong.
The outgoing governors under the watchlist incude Abia State - lkpeazu and deputy Ude Oko Chukwu; Adamawa State - Fintiri and deputy Crowther Seth; Akwa Ibom, Udom Emmanuel and deputy Moses Ekpo; Bauchi State, Mohammed and deputy Baba Tela; Benue State, Samuel Ortom and deputy Benson Abounu; Borno State, Babagana Zulum and Umar Kadafur; Cross River, Ayade and deputy Ivara Esu; Delta State, Okowa and deputy Kingsley Otuaro.
Others include Ebonyi State, Umahi and deputy Eric Igwe; Enugu State Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and deputy Cecilia Ezeilo; Gombe State Muhammad Yahaya and deputy Manasseh Jatau; Jigawa State Muhammad Abubakar and deputy Umar Namadi; Kaduna State Nasir El-Rufai and Hadiza Balarabe; Kano State Abdullahi Ganduje and deputy Nasir Gawuna; Katsina State Aminu Masari and Mannir Yakubu; Kebbi State Abubakar Bagudu and deputy Samaila Dabai; Kwara State Abdulrahman AbdulRasag and deputy Kayode Alabi; Lagos State Sanwo-Olu and deputy Femi Hamzat.
Others are Nasarawa State Abdullahi Sule and deputy Emmanuel Akabe; Niger State Abubakar Bello and deputy Ahmed Ketso; Ogun State Dapo Abiodun and deputy Noimot Salako-Oyedele; Oyo State Oluwaseyi Makinde and deputy Adebayo Lawal; Plateau State Simon Lalong and deputy Sonni Tyoden. Rivers State Nyesom Wike and Ipalibo Banigo; Sokoto State Aminu Tambuwal and deputy Manni Dan-Iya; Taraba State Darius Ishaku and deputy Haruna Manu; Yobe State Mai-Mala Buni and deputy Idi Gubana and Zamfara State, Matawalle and Hassan Gusau.