…As EFCC says Okpoh, Suspect wanted by FBI for $6m scam has surrendered***
The Zamfara Government has accused the administration of former governor Abdulaziz Yari of diverting N10.8 billion set aside for the state university project.
The State Commissioner of Finance, Alhaji Rabiu Garba, made the accusation at a press conference in Gusau on Tuesday.
However, former commissioner of finance under Yari’s administration, Alhaji Mukhtar Idris dismissed the allegation as politically motivated.
Garba said “based on the records available to us, the past administration in the state had diverted the sum of N10.8 billion from the N37 billion refunded to the state by the federal government for the construction of 14 federal roads.
“We learned that in May 2019, N10.8 billion was transferred to the University’s Projects Account by the past administration in the name of construction of State University.
“The amount was transferred in two tranches, that is N5 billion each, and subsequently N850 million was also transferred to same account on 9th May 2019.
“But instead that the amount transferred to be used for the said project, the money was diverted to other issues that have nothing to do with the university project”, he explained.
Garba dismissed claims that the present administration led by Governor Bello Matawalle is not interested in the completion of the university located in Talata-Mafara.
According to him, those making the claim were not aware that part of the fund for the project was diverted by the past administration.
On whether the state government would continue with the project, Garba said that only the State Executive Council can decide on that.
Reacting, the former Commissioner of Finance, Alhaji Mukhtar Idris denied the allegation.
Idris said the past administration had initiated a Special Account for the State University Project.
He said that projects were executed at the site of the university with part of the money, while a balance was left in the project account.
“Out of the money claimed by the current commissioner of finance, Rabiu Garba about N4 billion was left in the account and they are part of the money inherited by the present administration.
“Let the present administration explain the multibillion naira capital projects executed in the university, Talata-Mafara before going to the media for unclarified claims,” he added.
Idris urged the commissioner to always verify issues before going public.
In another development, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it is now in custody of Felix Okpoh, who was declared wanted by the U.S Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) over alleged fraud.
Okpoh is wanted by FBI for alleged involvement in a Business Email Compromise (BEC) scheme that allegedly defrauded more than 70 different businesses in the United States of six million dollars (N2.79 billion).
A spokesperson for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, said in a statement in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, that Okpoh turned himself in to the anti-graft agency on Sept. 18.
“Okpoh, alongside Richard Uzuh, Alex Ogunshakin, Abiola Kayode and Nnamdi Benson were declared wanted by the FBI sometime in 2019.
“They allegedly defrauded over 70 businesses in the United States, of over six million dollars,” he said.
Uwujaren said that Okpoh allegedly provided over 40 bank accounts and conspired with others to receive fraudulent wire transfers from their victims totaling over one million US dollars.
“Okpoh was, on Aug. 21, 2019, indicted in the United States District Court, District of Nebraska, on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
“He turned himself into EFCC Lagos Zonal Office in the company of his parents on Sept. 18, 2020,” he stated.