…Provide your evidence, EFCC replies
Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State has alleged that he is facing persecution by the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, AbdulRasheed Bawa, because he refused to give him $2 million bribe.
On Thursday, the anti-graft agency revealed that Mr Matawalle is being investigated for allegedly diverting over N70 billion state funds.
But speaking during an interview with the BBC Hausa on Friday, Mr Matawalle denied embezzling the state funds.
“Investigations are good, and I’m not against it. But let it not be selective. It should be holistic and not limited to governors. Is it only governors that have access to government funds, the Ministers are there; let him also invite them for a probe,” he said.
Mr Matawalle also asked Mr Bawa to submit himself for investigation over corruption allegations against him.
“I’m also challenging him [Bawa] to present to the world the documents he said he had against us [governors]. Then he should also submit himself for a probe because there are a lot of corruption allegations hanging around his neck.
“There are over 200 people who are willing to testify against him and tell the world that his hands are sucked in corrupt practices.
“He knows what is between us, he requested a favour from me and I refused him, so he has chosen to blackmail me, but I’m not bothered.
“All the allegations against me are blatant lies. He requested a $2 million bribe from me and I refused him, I have my witnesses” Matawalle said.
Mr Matawalle added that during a meeting between them, the EFCC boss accused him of not visiting his office the way other governors do.
When contacted by the BBC to get his reaction, Mr Bawa said that although no human being is 100 percent clean, he challenged Mr Matawalle to expose any fraud record against him.
The Spokesman for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, in a statement on Friday night urged the outgoing Zamfara governor to provide evidence to support his claim.
Uwujaren, in the statement, described the governor as a suspect under investigation who would not be given dignified attention.
He said, “The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been drawn to a trending interview granted to the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, by Bello Muhammed Matawalle, governor of Zamfara State, where he allegedly made wild bribery allegations against the Executive Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa.
“Matawalle’s recourse to mudslinging is symptomatic of a drowning man clutching at straws. But despite the irritation of his phantom claims, the Commission will not be drawn into a mud fight with a suspect under its investigation for corruption and unconscionable pillage of the resources of his state.
“If Matawalle will be taken seriously, he should go beyond saber-rattling by spilling the beans – provide concrete evidence as proof of his allegations.
He also alerted the public about plans by some of the alleged corrupt politically exposed persons to flee the country ahead of May 29.
“The commission is working in close collaboration with its international partners to frustrate these escape plans and bring those involved to justice,” he added.