12 August 2014

Nigeria: Exclusive - How Jigawa Governor, Sule Lamido, Received N1.3 Billion Kickback From Construction Firm

More details have emerged on how the Jigawa State Governor, Sule Lamido and his sons, Aminu and Mustapha Lamido, used their positions to siphon Jigawa State funds.

A source at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC disclosed that the Commission, which launched a massive probe into the finances of the Jigawa State government after the governor's eldest son, Aminu Lamido, was arrested at the Mallam Aminu Kano Airport on December 12, 2012 with undeclared $40,000, has uncovered how a major construction company, Dantata and Sawoe, paid N1.3 billion as kickback into the accounts of companies owned by Sule Lamido and his sons.

According to the source, between 2007 when Mr. Lamido assumed office as governor of Jigawa State and now, Dantata and Sawoe Construction Company was awarded contracts amounting to N13.5 billion. Payments for these contracts were made by the state government to the construction firm through five banks - Zenith, Access, Diamond, Sterling and UBA.

Within the same period, the source disclosed that EFCC investigations revealed that Dantata and Sawoe paid out over N1.3 billion into the accounts of companies in which Sule Lamido and his sons -- Mustapha and Aminu -have interests, specifically the accounts of Bamaina Holdings Limited where Sule Lamido is sole signatory and Speeds International Limited. Both accounts are domiciled in Unity Bank Plc.

Over N832 million was paid into these two accounts by the construction giant, while the balance of N488 million was paid into the family's account at Access Bank.

To disguise the nature of the payments, the construction company raised cheques in the name of Bamaina Company Nigeria Limited, Speeds International Limited and Gada Construction Limited, Curiously the cheques raised in the names of Bamaina Company Limited and Gada Construction Limited were cleared into Bamaina Holdings account in Unity Bank despite the fact that Gada Construction Limited had no account in Unity Bank. These third party cheques amounted to over N500 million.

More disturbing to investigators was the discovery that there was no authorization, power of attorney or indemnity provided by the companies before these third party cheques were cleared.

The source also revealed that kickbacks were paid to some traditional rulers in the state by the same construction company, which is also being investigated by the anti- graft agency. He, however, declined to name the traditional rulers involved in order not to jeopardize ongoing investigations.

PREMIUM TIMES learnt Danata and Sawoe is not the only construction company that returned 'favours' to the Lamido family for contracts awarded to them. EFCC investigations also reveal that AG Farero, a construction firm which won the contract for the construction of the state secretariat, initially for N6.66 billion but later reviewed upward to N9.3 billion, sub-contracted jobs to Speeds International and Bamaina Aluminium Company Limited. Both companies are owned by the Lamido family.

This is a major trend in the investigation as companies promoted by Governor Lamido and his children allegedly milked the state in sweetheart contract deals.

For instance, the source revealed that Aminu Lamido, who was jailed by a Federal High Court in Kano for money laundering offences, received over N1 billion from several Jigawa State establishments and agencies through his company, Saby Integrated Project Limited, between 2010 and 2013.

The company was awarded contract for the installation of street lights in various locations by the state Ministry of Transport to the tune of over N730 million. The state Universal Basic Education Board also awarded contracts of N173 million to the company, while the Small Towns Water Agency paid the same company N190 million for three separate contracts.

The source said the investigation is still ongoing, adding that no fewer than eight persons had been quizzed by the agency aside the governor and his sons. Those quizzed include the state accountant-general and some bank officials.

Recall that Aminu and Mustapha Lamido, were arrested in Kano on November 14, 2013 by EFCC and moved to Abuja, the Commission's headquarters, where they were grilled by a crack team of investigators working to unravel the web of money laundering in which billions of naira from Jigawa State government accounts were allegedly funnelled into the accounts of companies run by the Jigawa state governor and his two sons.

Over N10 billion is said to have been transferred from Jigawa State government accounts into the accounts in which Sule Lamido and his two sons have interest from 2007 till date.

When contacted, the spokesperson for Governor Lamido, Umar Kyari, declined to comment on the allegations. Instead he referred PREMIUM TIMES to the Commissioner of Information, Babandi Ibrahim, for enquiries.

However, several calls to the commissioner's mobile telephone were neither answered nor returned. Mr. Ibrahim also did not respond to a text message sent to him by this reporter.

Dantata and Sawoe also wouldn't comment for this story. Our reporter visited the company's headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday but after several hours of waiting, he was told that the Public Relations Officer of the company was unavailable for interview. He was not given any future appointment.

Efforts to contact the company through the telephone numbers listed on its website were unsuccessful, as an automated message kept saying the numbers were no longer in service.

An email to the company through the email address listed on the " Contact Us" section of its website bounced back. An automated message said it was rejected by the server for the recipient domain -- dantata-sawoe.com.


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