Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has uncovered how 24 former members of the Kwara State House of Assembly, the immediate past Commissioner for Finance, Ademola Banu, and some companies allegedly siphoned about N5 billion belonging to Kwara State between 2015 to 2019.
The Commission’s investigation reveals a bazaar of sorts in which lawmakers and members of the cabinet of former Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed fed fat on revenues generated by the state’s tax agency, the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service.
According to the anti-graft agency, officials of the tax authority were arm-twisted to deliver the huge cash monthly to the lawmakers as quid pro quo to secure easy approvals of their appropriations and other requests.
A source in EFCC told Vanguard on Friday that the beneficiaries of the fraud included all the former members of the Kwara State House of Assembly including the speaker, Dr Ali Ahmad; former Commissioner for Finance, Ademola Banu; ex-Kwara State Accountant General, Ishola Sulyman, Permanent Secretaries, among others.
The revelation was made by a staff of the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service, who is being interrogated by operatives of the EFCC over alleged graft running into millions of Naira. The source claimed that the Assembly members demanded the N4 million monthly bribe as “Public Relations” to facilitate their approvals of the finance ministry.
The officials said: “The former Kwara State Commissioner for Finance, Ademola Banu was collecting N5 million every month without working for it. In fact, Mr Banu collected it in cash and any time we don’t pay him as demanded he would not approve anything we took to him.”
On his part, Bakare, a former Chairman of House Committee on Appropriation and Finance said, ” They used to send N4 million monthly into my Personal Assistant’s account who is presently being detained by the EFCC. He would then withdraw the money and give to me and I would in turn hand it over to the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Dr Ali Ahmad, who would then share it to all the members of the Assembly.
” Some Honourable members used to collect the money in cash while others insisted that the money be transferred to their accounts,” Bakare said.
It was further discovered that a personal Assistant to the ex-Governor Ahmed, Rafiu Olasile received the sum of N10 million cash from one of the aides to ex-Chairman of House Committee on Appropriation and Finance.
The immediate past Chairman of the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service, Professor Muritala Awodu, a former member of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Hon Moshood Bakare and some staff of the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service are currently being quizzed by the operatives of the Commission over the mega scam.
The Spokesman for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed the arrest and interrogation of the former Kwara State officials and said that investigation into the heist was continuing.