The Immediate past Governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, has explained to a Federal High in Abuja, that he paid out the sum of N8.5 billion on May 27, 2019, two days to his exit from office, to contractors, who executed various infrastructural contracts for Bauchi State under his watch.
But the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has faulted his position. It says that contrary to the claims of the ex-governor that contractors were paid the sum, the 21 First City Monument Bank (FCMB) cheques used in paying out the money were issued in the name of the manager of the bank; and going by investigations so far, contracts contained in the schedule of payment approved by the ex-governor were not executed.
Abubakar denied that he laundered the money as has been widely speculated, admitting that the huge sum was paid to the contractors the same day it was received from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
According to him, the release from CBN was on the orders of the federal government as a refund for jobs done for the federal government.
In an 18 paragraphs affidavit he filed to support his application to join in a suit instituted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking to probe disbursement of the fund, the Bauchi former governor, denied laundering the sum of N19.9 billion as alleged by the anti-graft agency.
Abubakar said that the state government under his leadership had executed some infrastructural projects on behalf of the federal government to the tune of N14.6 billion and that the refund for the jobs by the federal government did not come until May 27, when he was about handing over to his successor.
The ex-governor explained that immediately the N14.6 billion entered the state government’s operational account number: 0998552074 domiciled at First City Monument Bank on May 27, a schedule of payment was prepared and executed to the tune of N8.9 billion as sundry payment, based on the approval of the outgoing state executive council under his watch.
Abubakar however alleged that the probe of the N8.5 billion disbursement and other transactions with the bank account by EFCC was allegedly at the instance of the current Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government under Alhaji Bala Mohammed, as part of efforts to rubbish and diminish the legacies of his government.
He therefore urged the court to include him as a party in the suit to enable him defend himself.
However, in a strong objection to his application for joinder, the EFCC in an 18-paragraph counter-affidavit urged the court to disregard the application on the grounds that the proper parties to the suit are the Bauchi State Government and First City Monument Bank, adding that the ex-governor cannot be personally affected directly or indirectly by the outcome of the suit.
In the counter-affidavit deposed to by one Mohammed Abdullahi on its behalf, the anti-graft agency asserted that contrary to the claims of the ex-governor that contractors were paid the sum, the 21 cheques used in paying out the money were issued in the name of the manager of the bank, adding that contracts contained in the schedule of payment approved by the ex-governor were not executed.
The EFCC therefore prayed the court to dismiss the application for joinder on the grounds that the probe of the disbursement has nothing to do with personality and politics of the ex-governor.
Meanwhile, Justice Nkeonye Maha, a vacation judge of the court has referred the case file to Justice Taiwo Taiwo, who had earlier granted an interim order in respect of the suit and adjourned hearing to September 10.