The Katsina State Government on Sunday said it would use all legal means to recover N58.5 billion allegedly diverted by former governor Ibrahim Shema and some of his lieutenants.
Gov. Aminu Masari said this in Katsina while receiving the main report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry on missing funds and properties from the commission’s Chairman, Mr Ado Ma’aji.
He said the state government had established the commission to investigate the loss of funds and properties during the last days of his predecessor’s tenure.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Shema was the governor of Katsina State from 2007 to 2015.
Masari said the state government was not investigating monies spent on executing projects but direct withdrawals from bank accounts belonging to ministries and parastatals.
The governor said that a White Paper on the issue would soon be forwarded to the state Ministry of Justice for legal consideration.
Masari said that the funds that were allegedly diverted by the people in question were so huge that the government would not contemplate on not retrieving them.
He said administrative actions would be taken on those involved that are still serving the state government, while those who are no longer on the state payroll would face legal action.
“The amount in question is so huge that it cannot be a mistake.
“If we have such money, we would have transformed the state and made it much better than what it is now.
“Government will take immediate action on officials found to be involved.
“We’ll look at the system and those wrongs not connected to individuals would be checked to forestall future occurrence,” he said.
The governor assured the people of the state that he would pursue the recovery of the money no matter how long it would take.
Ma’aji had earlier said the commission discovered that a whooping sum of N58.5 billion was unaccounted for after analysing 13 Memoranda presented to it and evaluation of the testimonies of witnesses.
He said the amount was more than the N55.5 billion the commission came up with during its submission of the interim report.
The chairman said that the difference was the outcome of a painstaking and critical verification of the figures in producing the main report.
He said more than N17.9 billion was found to have been diverted under the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P) and that over N14.9 billion went unaccounted for under the state’s Roads Maintenance Agency (KASROMA).
He added that more than N10.1 billion was also unaccounted for on the activities of the Ministry of Environment, Department of Community Development, Special Duties, Girl Child Education and Almajiri affairs.
He said over N15.4 billion was lost or unaccounted for on the activities of the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, and Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).
Ma’aji said bulk of the amount was withdrawn from the state’s Joint Local Account into ALGON’s account, and that there was an instance of 87 cheques of between N9 million and N10 million withdrawn in cash on the same day.
He said the 89 withdrawals were made on May 28, 2015, which was the twilight of Shema’s administration in the state.
Reacting to the development, Shema said that he was being witch-hunted by Masari’s administration.
Shema, who spoke through one of his aides, Mr Oluwabusola Olawale, said that he did not commit any fraud during his tenure.
The ex-governor said that he executed meaningful projects for the development of the state, adding that he has no regrets serving the people of the state.