Niger: Former commissioner diverts N6billion hajj subsidy

Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello
Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello

The Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, yesterday disclosed that the N6 billion traced to the bank account of a former Commissioner for Local Government in the state, Kantigi Liman, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was stolen from the state government.

The governor told State House correspondents after joining President Muhammadu Buhari for the Juma’at prayer at the State House Mosque that the money was believed to have been diverted by the former government official through inflated hajj subsidies offered by the state government to pilgrims when he served as chairman of the Niger State Pilgrims Agency.

“I’m aware that the EFCC is investigating the ecological funds. At the inception of this administration, we realised that the ecological funds disappeared. I did not have any evidence that it was utilised to address any ecological issues and we are faced with major ecological problems, especially in Mokwa, Agaie, Bida, part of Minna, Rafin Gora and Mariga.

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“We are doing our best to address the ecological problems. We need funds and unfortunately, the N2 billion that was given to the state was not judiciously used to address the ecological challenges. If it had been used properly maybe our burden might have been reduced by now, but we are having sleepless nights over ecological issues and we are still approaching the federal government to assist us,” he said.

The EFCC said earlier yesterday that it may soon declare the former Commissioner wanted after a further N2bn was traced to his United Bank for Africa (UBA) account by the agency, our reporter gathered. The discovery brought to N6bn, funds traced to accounts held by Kantigi Liman and companies linked to him, an EFCC source said.

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The commission had weeks earlier, traced N4bn to two accounts in GTBank, both linked to Liman. The first belongs to Sadiq Air Travel Agency Limited and the second to him.

Sources at the commission said Liman, a former governorship aspirant of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2015 election, had been elusive. “He is on the run and all efforts to track him down have been futile. The next option left for the commission is to declare him wanted,” the source said.

The source further disclosed that investigations so far pointed in the direction that the funds were siphoned from the local governments joint account of Niger State and the commission desperately wants Liman to confront him with available evidence. He is believed to rake in a monthly interest of over N33m on the fixed deposits.

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