Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
The Governor of Zamfara State and Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Alh. Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar, has denied allegations of building a $3m hotel in Lagos from monies stolen from the Paris-London Club refunds to states.
He said in statement by the Head of the Media and Public Affairs of the Governors’ Forum Secretariat, Mr. Abulrazaque Barkindo, in Abuja, yesterday, that he did not own even a plot of land in Lagos and therefore could not have been or building a hotel as alleged, in reports, quoting sources from the Economic and financial Crimes Commission.
“Governor Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar has said emphatically that he does not even own a plot of land in Lagos not to talk of a hotel,” it said.
The EFCC officials in Lagos had been quoted as saying “they have found a hotel being constructed by Governor Yari of Zamfara state with $3m he stole from London-Paris Club loan refund to Nigerian states.”
They also claimed, as reported, that “apart from the $3million, Governor Yari also diverted N500 million from the Paris Club refund to pay off a loan” and that “overall the governor embezzled the sum of N2.2 billion from the N19billion set aside illegally to pay ‘consultants’.
Barkindo’s statement read in part, “Governor Abdulaziz Yari is not building any hotel in Lagos nor were any monies stolen or embezzled from the Paris-London Club refunds to states or from any other source.
“The medium quoted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) extensively as its source and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum is alarmed that the EFCC continues to feed the media fibs at the expense of its hard-earned reputation as the anti- graft agency that Nigerians used to respect.
“This is perhaps why the EFCC has lost most of the high-profile corruption cases at the law courts after it had unfairly stage-managed media trials and caused their victims personal pain and public umbrage.
“This report, typical of most of the exclusive leaks that are becoming characteristic of the sources that court some sections of the media, lacks detail and compelling evidence to be fit to print.
“ The sources were courageous enough to mentioned a hotel in Lekki area of Lagos but gave neither a street name nor any specific information on the property to give credibility to the allegations. This does no service to any investigation nor does it help the development of our country, Nigeria.
“ The media, we all know, is entitled to perform its duties as watchdog of society, which is enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is not, however, entitled to make unfair attacks, based on unfounded, false and unsubstantiated allegations against responsible public office holders.
“ The media should support the EFCC in ensuring that convicting people on the pages of newspapers shouldn’t be the focus of the EFCC in its war against corruption. Instead, EFCC should channel its energies to comprehensive, thorough and credible investigation that can stand the scrutiny of legal examination in court.
“ There can be no claim to any semblance of due process when individuals are convicted on the pages of newspapers before they are arraigned only to be declared innocent at the end, all at the expense of their reputation and that of their immediate family, through such media hype.”