With only few hours to the March 9 governorship and state assembly elections, many top government officials in Imo and Kwara states have been nabbed by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over suspicious withdrawal of over N2 billion for alleged vote-buying to ensure the victory of their preferred candidates.
According to Vanguard report, the Acting Accountant General of Imo State, Mr. Uzoho Cashmier, was the latest culprit over alleged withdrawal of N1.050 billion between Tuesday and Friday.
On the other hand, 10 officials of the Kwara State government had been detained and released on bail by the EFCC over cash withdrawal of N1.020 billion earlier this week and previously.
A top EFCC official confirmed that Uzoho’s arrest followed intelligence report that a top official in the state had intended to use the huge cash to ensure that his preferred candidate emerges victorious in the contentious poll.
The EFCC source said: “Intelligence further revealed that Mr. Casmir withdrew the amount in three tranches between Tuesday and Thursday this week in the following order: N200 million on Tuesday, N500 million on Wednesday and N350 million on Thursday.
“We have in the meanwhile blocked the traced accounts, while the arrested Accountant General has been providing useful information to the Commission,” the anti-graft agency said.
The anti-graft agency recalled that the said official was before his appointment, a director of finance in Imo State and was in 2016 fingered in N2 billion bailout fund scam, which was given to the state by the Federal Government for the payment of salary arrears of civil servants.
In a similar operation, the EFCC on Thursday, uncovered about N1billion cash withdrawal by the Kwara State Government, a week before the last Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Those arrested and currently being interrogated in respect of the suspicious withdrawal, include, Commissioner for Finance, Nurudeen Banu; Accountant General, Sulaiman Ishola; Commissioner for Water Resources, Yusuf Abdulkadir; Head of Service, Susan Modupe Oluwole; Special Adviser, Commissioner for Energy, Eleja Taiwo Banu; Chief of Staff, Abdulwahab Yusuf; officials of the Secretary to the State Government, and those of the Government House.
Investigations by EFCC operatives revealed that the said money was withdrawn from the state’s account domiciled with Sterling Bank.
An official of the State Government, Hafees Yusuf, confirmed to the operatives that he got instructions from his “boss” to withdraw some monies sometimes in February 2019.
He said: “My Controller of Finance told me that the sum of N350 millionwas paid into the account of Kwara State Government, and I was instructed by my boss to raise cheques of various sums of monies, which I did and were duly signed by the Controller of Finance; I withdrew the monies as I was instructed by my supervisor.”
It was gathered that a senior staff of Sterling Bank, who is currently being interrogated by operatives, revealed that the Accountant General, Commissioner for Finance and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, are signatories to the account where N720 million cash were withdrawn from the Kwara State Government Account domiciled in the branch of the bank near Ilorin Post Office between February 7 and 11, 2019.