11 September 2018

Nigeria: Garba Shehu As New EFCC Chair?

Whatever credibility that is left for the anti -corruption war of the President Buhari government was dragged in the mud by the acerbic response of Presidential Spokesman Mr. Garba Shehu to the corruption allegations against the Chief of Staff to his boss, Mallam Aba Kyari a few days back .

The Chief of Staff who was once embroiled in an alleged N500m bribery scandal with MTN a while ago came under the radar again as one Bako Waziri Kyari, who said he's a nephew to Kyari made some revelations public during a radio programme Berekete Family, on Abuja's Human Rights Radio, 101.1FM.

Bako said that Kyari and one Sani Ado, whom he said worked at Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, allegedly collected N29.9m from him in order to facilitate the award of a contract.

Bako said Kyari visited his family after his father died and promised to help him secure a contract.

"Abba Kyari asked if I had a company registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission. I told him I did and so he asked me to come down to Abuja. We met at least four times at Caledonia Hotel on Gana Street, Maitama. We discussed there. The hotel should have CCTV and this can be verified.

Abba Kyari collected the documents of my company. He said I would supply 15 Toyota Hilux vehicles to the Presidential Villa. He gave me an agreement to sign and I signed two documents. He collected two letterheads from me, 12 passport photos and introduced me to Sani Ado and Alhaji Ibrahim.

He said anytime they needed money, he would let me know so that I could give the money to Sani Ado. Ado began collecting money from me to process the contract. Before depositing money into Ado's account, I always alerted Abba Kyari and he would tell me to go ahead.

All the money I transferred to Ado summed up to N29, 950,000. The total contract was worth N300,725,000. They promised me 30 percent profit of the total contract which is about N94m," Bako said.

Bako said that Ado later told him that his money has been paid, but he said he didn't receive any money. When he got tired of asking Ado for the money, he petitioned the EFCC.

"Some officials loyal to Abba Kyari refused to help me. I went to meet an official petitioner at Block C in the EFCC. He is very close to the acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu. The official asked me to bring the petition to him but by the time I got there, he had called Kyari to inform him of my presence. Abba Kyari called me on the phone to tell me that he knew I was at the EFCC," Bako said.

Bako said he later reported the issue to a police officer DSP Tijani Bulama. He said Kyari later promised to pay the money but he didn't.

"The policeman threatened to make the matter public, but the following day, men of the DSS stormed Tijani's home and arrested him.

While in detention, the policeman under duress, called me, asking me to meet him at Eagle Square. On getting there, men of the DSS arrested me and took me to their office. The DSS men asked if we had informed anyone and we said no.

They took our statements and Abba Kyari later came to the DSS. He, however, refused to speak to me. The DSS officials forced me to lie that I gave the policeman N250,000 to blackmail Abba Kyari but I refused. So they detained me for two weeks while the policeman was detained for a month," Bako added.

Bako said that Kyari asked the DSS to release him, saying it is a family issue and they would resolve it. However, seven months passed and Kyari didn't send the money, Bako said.

Bako said he went back to the EFCC, through another officer, Nura Buhari

"Nura Buhari then told me that if I wanted my petition to be attended to, I must remove Abba Kyari's name. So, I removed Abba Kyari's name and put only Ado.

Buhari instructed that the investigation must not include Abba Kyari. They took my statement at Block B but moments later, Abba Kyari called me again. When I picked up, Kyari told me he was told that I was at the EFCC but I denied being there.

All of them at the EFCC began to feel intimidated. Even Magu is afraid of touching the case file," Bako said.

The police officer Bulama, said:

"Initially I didn't believe. I thought it was a fraudster impersonating the Chief of Staff. I called Ado and he said it was the Chief of Staff that asked him to collect the money. When I called the Chief of Staff, he denied it and said it was a mix up.

The next day, I sent a text to Ado telling him that the matter would be made public if he did not repay the money. Before I knew it, armed DSS officials in 10 vehicles stormed my home in PENGASSAN Estate, Lokogoma, and arrested me. They didn't even allow me wear my shoes. It was on March 27, 2017, there were eyewitnesses there.

They blindfolded me. My child was even crying in the house and they even pushed the little boy to the floor. It was at that point I realised that it was the Chief of Staff's handiwork. Even the IG would not send the DSS to my house. I knew that only someone as powerful as Abba Kyari could do such."

Bulama said the then DG of DSS, Lawal Daura told him "you are the one trying to intimidate the Chief of Staff, you want to become a whistleblower."

"When I asked if it was true that Abba Kyari duped the man, he asked me to get out of his office," Bulama said.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC through its spokesman, Mr. Wison Uwajaren told a newspaper that it has begun work on the petition about Abba Kyari alleged involvement in the said contract scam.

"The petition by Bako Waziri is being investigated by the commission. Any serious investigation takes time and it is presumptuous to conclude that the EFCC is non-committal simply because you did not receive instant result. This is how investigations are done," Uwajaren said.

Garba Shehu would not wait for the EFCC to make its findings public before he took over the agency's job. He not only cleared the Chief of Staff of the allegations but went ahead to launch odious and offensive attack against the newspaper that published the story ending with a threat on behalf of the Chief of Staff:

"The Punch was notified of the various falsehoods contained in the allegations but still went ahead to publish the weak accusations. They should be prepared to face Abba Kyari in court".

The allegations against Kyari are mere allegations until they are proven. An accused is presumed innocent under our laws until guilt is established. But it is baffling that a Presidential aide will abuse the office of the President the way Shehu has done by issuing such clearance on a matter the EFCC says it is investigating. If the EFCC finds out the petitioner lied, there are laws to punish such malicious allegations.

And that such an aide still keeps his job signifies the immortal pit this country has sunk !

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