Security agencies are turning over files on an alleged $25 million cash-for-loan scandal rocking the Senate’s Local and Foreign Loans Committee led by Senator Shehu Sani.
Already, the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Police have tightened the loose ends over what Presidency sources described as “cash-for-approval” deals, which the Senate Committee had almost sealed with several states of the federation seeking approval for foreign loans.
The specific approvals being investigated are loan requests by Borno and Niger States, and specific demands allegedly made by the committee.
Following the discoveries made from Borno and Niger, the investigating team decided to beam its searchlight on loan requests from other states.
The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had as Acting President forwarded the requests of the states to the National Assembly for approval as required by law.
Osinbajo had forwarded to the National Assembly in June 2017, a $1.5 billion loan request with part of the benefitting states including Kaduna ($350 million), Ebonyi ($70 million), Kano ($200 million) and Katsina ($110 million).
A part of the investigations is to find out how foul water allegedly passed under the bridge when some elements in the Senate Committee reportedly asked for $20 million from the insurgency-battered Borno State and $5 million from Niger State, in order to have their respective loan requests approved.
A source claimed that the interest on this investigation may have been triggered because Senator Sani, though a leading member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), has remained a strident critic of the Federal Government, the Kaduna State government and the APC national leadership.
He chaired the Senate Committee which investigated the suspended Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Engr David Lawal. He has variously described the Presidency as fighting the war on corruption with kid-gloves, applying “deodorant” when corruption entangles a key member of the Buhari government and “insecticide” when personalities from the other arms of government or the opposition are under investigation.
Due to the national economic crisis, several states are seeking foreign loans out of the problem which thus created the opportunity for “deals” for the Senate Local and Foreign Loans Committee, according to the sources.
“The committee in the main is saddled with the constitutional responsibility to scrutinise such loan requests and make appropriate recommendations to the full Senate in session for approval before the Federal Government guarantees such foreign loans. The conditions that have to be met are tight. It is these tough conditions that the committee has cashed in on which prompted the recourse to demand for bribes,” one of the sources stated.
Only last week, Senator Shehu Sani had urged President Muhammadu Buhari to include corrupt APC members on the list of looters to be published. Sani wrote on his Facebook wall: “The Federal Government’s decision to publish the names of looters is commendable. Hope the ‘call-up’ list will not be limited to the ageing ‘Umbrella United’ players, but will include those in the ‘Broomers FC’ and ‘Paris Saint Germain’ and ‘Dynamo Cabal FC’ players.”
Competent sources said that Senator Shehu Sani, who has been a pain in the neck of the “cabal”, may have walked into a trap set for him due to his strident criticisms.
From facts gathered, the loan request for Borno State is meant to take care of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and the rebuilding of the state that was devastated by Boko Haram.
Apart from the Borno and Niger issues, the embattled Senator had, according to sources, allegedly sent a top-ranking Senator to Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State to ask for “settlement” before the “$350 million foreign loan counterpart the state’s budget could be approved.
According to information obtained from top Presidency sources, Sani’s sole request was that “Governor el-Rufai should guarantee me a return ticket and his loan request will be approved,” contrary to his position that he is opposed to the loan for fears that Kaduna State was not in a position to repay.
Governor el-Rufai, as a ministerial nominee, during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, had squealed on Senators for demanding money to facilitate his clearance.
The World Bank on 20th June 2017 approved a $350million budget support facility for Kaduna State to fund critical projects. To draw from the money, the state must secure National Assembly’s approval before the Federal Government could guarantee the borrowing plan.
The request is gathering dust at the Local and Foreign Loans Committee.
Last week, some women had demonstrated against Senator Sani, accusing him of using his position to frustrate the state government.
A text message was sent to Senator Shehu Sani on the matter which he did not respond to.
In his reply, an aide to the Senator named Sule said: “Please give him a little while, he is at an event. The phone is not close to him, I will notify him.”
But at the time of filing this report, Senator Sani did not respond to any of the questions.