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Third term: How I released N10b, by ex-Gov Turaki

Posted by By DESMOND MGBOH, Kano on 2007/07/18 | Views: 378 |

Third term: How I released N10b, by ex-Gov Turaki


Former governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Saminu Turaki, who is currently being held by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has given details of how he released money to fund the tenure elongation project of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Former governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Saminu Turaki, who is currently being held by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has given details of how he released money to fund the tenure elongation project of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The ex-governor, whose aides had said that the N30 billion he was alleged to have misappropriated was used to finance the third term project, said in a statement to the EFCC that the money was handed over in the presence of sacked governor of Anambra State, Mr. Andy Uba, who was then working as a presidential aide.

In a press statement Monday night, however, the EFCC said no governor gave any money for the failed tenure elongation project.

A credible source told Daily Sun that Turaki, in his statement of defence at EFCC, said the former president was not only interested in continuing in office beyond May 29, 2007, but also got him to finance the plot.

In the statement to the EFCC, dated July 11, 2007, the former governor stated how he gave the sum of N10.4 billion as one of his interventions in the third term plot.
The statement, which was in Turaki’s handwriting, said the money was disbursed for what he described as "Security Use." He also wrote that the money was changed from dollars to naira and released in the presence of Andy Uba.

He also made clear reference to other financial commitments, especially relating to proceeds from oil deals, in excess of 50 million dollars, which was used to support the project.
It was not clear why the former governor decided to provide such awesome details, but the source said that it may not be far from the fact that he feels betrayed by some people, including Obasanjo, who was a beneficiary of the same resources he allegedly mismanaged.
Turaki’s aides had told Daily Sun at the weekend that the former governor was a mere victim of some vested political interests as the amount in question was invested in the failed tenure extension bid at the instance of Obasanjo.

According to one of the aides, some of the actors in the present administration, including senators and particularly the former president, were aware of how the money was spent.
"Turaki could not have stolen N33 billion. What for?" the source queried, adding: "If he is pushed to the wall, he will be forced to open up, and everybody will know what transpired."
The source, however, absolved President Umar Yar’Adua from having a hand in the ex-governor’s ordeal, pointing out that Turaki and Yar’Adua have had a cordial personal relationship spanning more than 30 years.

According to the aides, Turaki had met with the president shortly after the latter assumed office and both discussed for more than one hour.
"He is like a younger brother to the president," the aide said.
In a media statement on Monday signed by Osita Nwajah, EFCC spokesman, the anti-corruption body, however, said no former governor had funded third term. The statement reads:
"Sections of the media have been inundated with stories attributing ulterior motives to recent and ongoing actions of the EFCC.

"The most sustained of these untoward imputations have been that the acts of invitation for questioning, arrest and subsequent charging to court of some of former governors are informed by political considerations, especially their touted opposition to the alleged Third Term bid of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. On the other hand, some aides and associates to some of those answering charges have, after admitting that their principals looted their state’s treasuries, revealed they did so to facilitate the Third Term project!
"It must be pointed out, however, that all the former governors made statements to EFCC investigators addressing all the allegations against them, point by point.

There is nowhere in any of these statements that they admitted to having stolen state funds either to assist or hinder realization of the so-called Third Term agenda. Their answers to the questions put to them on the looting of their respective states and the result of EFCC painstaking investigations would, however, be tested in open court.

"EFCC notes and wishes to draw the attention of Nigerians to the fact that these imputations are mischievous and diversionary with the intent being to switch attention from the issues at hand, to wit, the charges of stealing and money laundering that have been levelled against the accused persons.

"The Commission wishes that in the interest of the long-suffering Nigerian public, defenders of barefaced thievery would allow the justice system to do its work without let and hindrance and, anybody who has concrete evidence as to what uses the billions of Naira stolen from states treasuries were put, should come forward with them."

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