On Tuesday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, detained the former Governor of Zamfara State and former Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Abdulaziz Yari, citing his alleged illegal financial dealings and misappropriation of funds.
Yari, who was arrested by operatives of the anti-graft agency, was taken to the Sokoto office of the commission where he was detained after being grilled for hours.
In February 2021, Yari had first been arrested and grilled by EFCC operatives in Lagos, while the Federal High Court in Abuja had, on January 26, 2021, ordered the final forfeiture of funds belonging to Yari domiciled in Zenith and Polaris Banks.
The judgment followed investigations that Yari had suspicious monies stuffed in his bank accounts including the sum of $56,056.75 reportedly lodged in his account with Polaris Bank; N12.9m, N11.2m, $303m, N217,388.04, and $311.8m said to be kept in different Zenith Bank accounts in the name of the ex-governor and his companies.
But last Tuesday, the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed again the arrest and detention of Yari, stating that the former governor was interrogated for at least seven hours before he was detained.
SaharaReporters learnt that there are at least two solid cases of financial misappropriations over which the former governor and NGF chairman is being investigated.
One, Yari was detained in continuation of the investigation which opened in February 2021 centering around over N300 billion he attempted to move from a corporate account linked to him in a commercial bank.
The invitation letter dated April 6, given to Yari to report at the Sokoto EFCC office, was signed by the EFCC’s Director of Operations, Abdulkarim Chukkol, and stated that Yari’s interrogation is based on “conspiracy, diversion of public funds and money laundering.”
Two, Yari is being investigated over his alleged roles in the judgment debts around the Paris Club refunds as claimed by some private firms.
Yari’s handling of the proceeds of Paris Club refunds from 2017, when he was the NGF chairman, to May 2019 when his two-term governorship ended, is being investigated.
SaharaReporters had reported on March 24 how the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, and the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, allegedly forced the Central Bank of Nigeria to pay $350 million (about N133 billion) as judgment debts on behalf of some states and local governments.
Top presidency sources had told SaharaReporters on Wednesday that the CBN had already paid out $350 million of the sum against Buhari and NGF’s stances, and the money had been shared among Malami, Gambari and some of the conniving entities including Ned Nwoko.
“Malami, Ned Nwoko and Gambari already got the money. The first one was also shared between (former Zamfara Governor Abdulaziz) Yari, who was also former NGF Chairman, and Ned Nwoko. They said the CBN Governor did not approve cash and settled for promissory notes because at the last $350 million, the CBN Governor was not paid his entitlement.
“So, these people had collected and shared an initial $350 million. It was that money Nwoko shared to ex-NGF Chairman, Yari. But his share was frozen by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission till date,” a top source had revealed.
A court document was indeed filed by the EFCC in 2017 which reveals the suspicious nature of payments by the Yari-led NGF to the consultants and firms who were said to have helped the forum to recover funds with the London and Paris clubs loan between 1995 and 2002.
In the document, the EFCC had stated that it received intelligence in January 2017 alleging “conspiracy, criminal misappropriation of public funds involving the sum of N19,439,225,871.11 out of the Paris Club refunds made by the Federal Government in favour of the 36 states of the federation.”
The commission had in the court filing, sought an order of forfeiture of N500 million and $500,000 allegedly recovered from Yari.