By; IBRAHIM DANGANA
The noose is closing in on the neck of Senator Muhammad Adamu Aliero, former Governor of Kebbi State, now representing the Central Senatorial District in the Senate.
Concerned citizens are raising an alarm over the inaction of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the various petitions submitted to it since 2007, when Aliero completed his second and final term at Government House, Birnin Kebbi.
Indeed, the public protests started when Aliero was still the Governor. In December 2006, the trio of prominent public figures – Abubakar Kane, Sani Dododo and Shuaibu Mungadi – submitted a “Petition Against the Kebbi State Governor Muhammad Adamu Aliero and Abba Adamu Aliero and Associates.”
In it, they sought to bring to the notice of the Commission that “the mode of placement, disbursement, deduction from source and application of Local Government funds by the Kebbi State Governor amounted to clear procedural aberrations and do not conform or comply with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
According to the petitioners, since the inception of his tenure in 1999, Governor Aliero did not allow the Local Government Areas to exercise their statutory roles of deciding and executing projects in the real interests of their electorates.
The petition alleged that Aliero not only imposed projects and expenditures on them but contracts were awarded to his personal companies through cronies who act as fronts.
Contracts were awarded without any due process and payments were effected from source oftentimes before the projects were executed.
It cited the example of a company without a verifiable business address or proof of registration with the Kebbi State Tenders Board awarded a contract in 2000 for the supply of mobile cinema vans for each of the 21 Local Government Areas at the cost of over N140 million.
Even though the contract specifications show that the package should comprise a brand- new 4-wheel drive Toyota or Pajero, the contractor supplied shoddily refurbished Landrovers and received full payment.
Similarly, in 2001 Aliero compelled all the 21 LGA chairmen to purchase old firefighting trucks at the cost of N11 million each. The ramshackle vehicles were allegedly bought from Cotonou by Aliero’s cronies at the cost of N2 million a piece.
In another instance, the LGA Councils were forced to purchase tokunbo Komatsu Graders at the cost of over N11 million each. When A. A. Shehu, Aliero’s surrogate contractor, failed to procure the graders, the order was changed to tractors!
In 2002, all the LGAs were similarly forced to purchase hundreds of motorcycles and bicycles at exorbitant cost purportedly for the People’s Empowerment Programme.
Payment of over N200 million from source was made and received by Abba Aliero, the Governor’s younger brother. This was a contract in which the name of the contractor was not even mentioned in the memo seeking approval.
The petitioners maintained that even though the motor-cycles were meant for onward distribution on loan- basis, four years down the line as at the time of the petition, there is no evidence of any loan repayments.
This contract was replicated in 2003 when Governor Aliero again prevailed on the LGAs to purchase another batch of 806 motorcycles and 1498 bicycles. The beneficiary was the same A.A. Shehu who simply distributed the items to ANPP supporters in aid of Aliero’s re-election bid.
Other contracts for which no due process was followed include the one for the supply of 128 tractors, 4,920 plows and 9,840 work-bulls at a total cost of almost one billion Naira. This contract carried no specifications and the identity of the awardee was not even mentioned in the memo seeking approval.
After citing other similar cases, the petitioners concluded that with meticulous investigations, the Commission “will discover more shocking cases of financial crimes against the governor.”
Coupled with countless other petitions charting the corrupt conduct of Aliero even as Senator, concerned citizens of Kebbi State are wondering why the former governor cannot be brought to book.
His contemporaries including former Governors Jolly Nyame of Taraba State and Joshua Dariye of Plateau State were jailed over lesser crimes while dozens of others are still in court. Why is the EFCC cuddling Aliero?
Ibrahim Dangana writes from Katanga Town in Maiyama Local Government Area of Kebbi State.