The Independent Corrupt Practices and othe related offences Commission (ICPC) has disclosed findings from its preliminary investigation of allegations of money laundering and diversion of public funds against the immediate past governor of Zamfara State, Abdulazeez Abubakar Yari.
The ICPC, in documents filed before the Federal High Court, Abuja gave details from the report of its interim investigation of Yari’s asset declaration before the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB and accounts linked to him in two banks – Zenith and Polaris banks.
The agency, while accusing Yari of not being truthful in his assets declaration, claimed that the ex-governor diverted Zamfara State’s funds, using some companies in which he allegedly has interest – Kayatawa Nigeria Limited and B. T. Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited.
The ICPC also claimed that it found that Yari, who was the then Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum transferred funds from the group to one of his firms.
It alleged that on June 18, 2015, the 3rd respondent i.e B.T. Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited received a transfer of the sum of N150, 000, 000.00 from the Nigeria Governors’ Forum through the 1st respondent when (he) the 1st respondent was the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum
Yesterday, Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja granted an ex-parte motion by the ICPC, in which it sought to temporarily freeze the accounts allegedly linked to Yari and both companies in Zenith and Polaris banks, pending the conclusion of investigation.
ICPC’s lawyer, Osuobeni Akponimisingha, had argued that motion, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/916/2019 on Wednesday following which Justice Taiwo fixed ruling for August 16, 2019. The motion has Yari, Kayatawa and B.T. Oil and Gas as respondents.
Justice Taiwo, in the ruling yesterday, granted the nine reliefs sought by the ICPC. He ordered the agency to make the order public by publishing it in a national daily within 14 days, and for any part affected by the order to respond within seven days by justifying their ownership of the affected funds and convincing why the money in the accounts and other affected assets should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
The reliefs granted by the court, and as prayed by the ICPC are the following, among others:
*An order of interim forfeiture of the sum of N12, 912, 848.68 being proceeds of some unlawful activity allegedly stashed in Zenith Bank Plc with account number: 1001381684 in the name of Abdulazeez Abubakar Yari.
*An order of interim forfeiture of the sum of $56, 056.75 being proceeds of some unlawful activity allegedly stashed in Polaris Bank with account number: 21 10000928 in the name of Abdulazeez Abubakar Yari
*An order of interim forfeiture of the sum of N11, 159, 674.17 being proceeds of some unlawful activity allegedly stashed in Zenith Bank Plc with account number: 1010757436 in the name of Kayatawa Nigeria Limited.
*An order of interim forfeiture of the sum of $301, 319 being proceeds of some unlawful activity allegedly stashed in Zenith Bank Plc with account number: 5360050304 in the name of Kayatawa Nigeria Limited.
*An order of interim forfeiture of the sum of N217, 388.04 being proceeds of some unlawful activity allegedly stashed in Zenith Bank Plc with account number: 1012556798 in the name of B.T. Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited.
Justice Taiwo has however fixed ruling for Monday in an ex-parte motion filed and argued yesterday by Yari’s lawyer, Mahmoud Magaji (SAN), seeking, among others, to void the seizure of his properties by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (INEC)
The ICPC, stated that its motivation for seeking the orders was because of the “victim of the alleged crime is the Zamfara State Government and by extension the Federal Government of Nigeria and innocent taxpayers which include judges of courts across Nigeria.
“The moveable properties being described are alleged to have been acquired through some unlawful activities, which proceeds if not illicitly taken from the coffers of the Zamfara State Government and by extension the Federal Government of Nigeria, same would have been used to meet the infrastructural needs of citizens of Zamfara State and Nigeria at large.
“The respondents may likely dissipate the alleged suspicious moveable properties should the court not intervene at this moment to preserve the res (the subject of the dispute). The respondents did not acquire the alleged funds legitimately.
“The alleged moveable properties may likely be used by the respondents to fund activities that may make the country unstable and ungovernable by the present administration which may also spill over to successive administrations in the future. ”
In another court document, the ICPC gave details of what informed its decision to investigate the ex-governor and what its preliminary findings are.
Magaji, while arguing the motion yesterday, contended that the EFCC was in error by sealing his client’s properties without abiding by the provision of the law.
The lawyer said that the motion was to ensure that each government agencies operates within the confines of the law, and urged the court ”to invoke his power to direct the EFCC to go and remove the red inscription pasted in the house. We urge your Lordship to direct parties to maintain status quo pending the determination of the suit.”
Justice Taiwo Taiwo, after listening to Yari’s lawyer, adjourned till August 19 for ruling.