The Centre for Public Accountability has called for the arrest of former Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, over the alleged diversion of over N22.5 billion funds meant for the development of parts of the state into a private account.
The group, which is a coalition of 16 frontline civil society organisations, alleged that Yari had perpetrated the act when he was governor of the state from 2011 and 2019.
In a statement, the group’s Executive Director, Olufemi Lawson, said banditry arose because of the poor performance of the successive administrations in the state and continual lootings.
Lawson explained that the people of Zamfara suffer the consequences of such embezzlement and cannot further keep silent over the issue.
The statement read, “We all are aware of the heightened threat of insecurity, occasioned by the activities of armed bandits particular in the northwest region of our country, the recent being the abduction of about 317 schoolgirls.
“We are sad that the issue of insecurity in Nigeria is becoming a threat to everyone and we must not fold our arms while some elected public officials elected to serve us continue to deprive us of the basic needs because of their irresponsibility.
“The reason why kidnapping, armed robbery, and banditry have continued to fester, is because of this wanton looting of the state by some of the governors who cared less about the security and the welfare of our people as enshrined in the constitution.
It added: “Our focus is on Zamfara state because of the level of banditry in the state. Our findings, which were corroborated by Zamfara citizens, indicated that the issue of banditry arose because of the lacklustre performance of the successive administrations in the state and became worse during the regime of the former Governor Abdulaziz Yari that he had to relocate from the state to Abuja, thereby abandoning Zamfara citizens to their fate.
“You will also recall, that it was widely reported recently that Mr Yari was invited and grilled by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for several hours over alleged criminal diversion of state funds while in office. Our findings based on another document have shown how another N22.5 billion was diverted from the coffers of the state which is now in the public domain.”
Lawson explained that if the N22.5 billion which was part of the refund from the Nigerian government had been ploughed back into the state, it could have helped to boost the economy and create opportunities for the teeming population in Zamfara State who are allegedly at the receiving end of bad governance over the years.
He added that the COVID-19 pandemic had now worsened the already bad situation.
He also stated that corruption had become endemic in the country which he claimed had retarded progress for a long time.
“We have discovered that if we are to make progress, there’s a need to re-evaluate our leadership recruitment process with a view to setting a minimum standard.
“Going by Sheik (Ahmad) Gumi’s recent assertion, the bandits are asking for blanket amnesty. What has the state denied them, you may want to ask that we should now grant them blanket amnesty for terrorism in the country. This only points to one direction—failure of leadership,” Lawson said.
He, therefore, called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, and other relevant agencies to conclude their investigation of Yari as soon as possible.
“This is the only way to restore our dignity that hard work pays as opposed to the level of corruption which we are witnessing now. It will also serve as a deterrent to those who may want to toe such an ignoble path now or in the nearest future,” the group said.