Following his arraignment by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the former Zamfara State Governor Ahmed Rufai Sani has claimed that Zamfara House of Assembly approved N1 billion voted for the repair of Gusau Dam.
He further urged the anti-graft agency to pick up his successor, Mahmuda Shinkafi, for overpayment for sale of excess grains to the Federal Government as contained in his charge sheet.
It will be recalled that Sani was arraigned on a 19-count at the Zamfara High Court 4 on last Thursday for allegedly mismanaging the N1 billion, with claims that about N425,491,736.75 of the N1 billion was allegedly diverted to other purposes.
But in his statement of defence filed in court, Sani said all expenditures queried in charges 1-14 were approved by the House of Assembly.
He said relevant documents on the expenditures were taken away by an official of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)..
The ex-governor urged ICPC to prevail on the EFCC to allow him have access to some of these documents.
Sani, who was governor between 1999 to 2007, said his successor in office, ex-Governor Mahmuda Shinkafi, should be held responsible for charges 15-19 bordering on overpayment for sale of excess grains to the Federal Government.
Sani said: “In the 2006 Budget, internal loans of N6 billion was approved as part of consolidated revenue funds to finance the budget. One billion naira sourced to finance the collapsed dam was part of it.
“In fact, by the end of the budget year, less than N5 billion was taken, including the N1 billion as loans.
“I requested approval from the House of Assembly to spend an estimated N1 billion in repair of the dam because it collapsed before the end of the year.
“When the actual expenditure was not up to the N1 billion approved by the House, the balance became part of the consolidated revenue funds as approved in the 2006 Budget, which could be used to finance any expenditure approved in the budget.
“All the expenditures mentioned in charges 1-14 were approved in the 2006 Budget.”
He said some documents, which could assist his defence were taken away by an official of the EFCC.
Sani urged ICPC to prevail on EFCC to enable him to have access to the affected documents.
He added: “Primary evidence of payments (e.g. payment vouchers from N20 million and above), bank correspondence files, bank statements of accounts and other relevant documents from 1999 to June/July 2007 were taken away from the conference room of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) to the headquarters of EFCC, Abuja, by an official, simply called Mr. Reuben. They are all original copies.
“The only original primary evidence of payments documents left in the custody of our cashier at the time of removal of these documents to EFCC, Abuja from Gusau, are cash books and cheque-release registers.
“It is therefore advisable that the officer, who forwarded these documents on March 9, last year, to ICPC be requested to retrieve these documents or their photocopies so that the required information can be obtained or EFCC can liaise with ICPC to have access to these documents.”
He said Shinkafi should be held responsible for charges 15-19 bordering on overpayment for sale of excess grains to the Federal Government.
He said: “Charges 15-19 are not supposed to be directed to me because the project was ongoing when I left office as per a letter from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources addressed to my successor dated July 17, 2007 while I left office May 29, 2007.
“When I wrote a letter to Mr. President on February 6, 2007, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources did not formalise the contract until April 2007.
“In my handover note to the in-coming governor, this project and its status was mentioned.
“In the letter of July 17, 2007, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources wrote a letter to the then governor reducing the quantity from 50,000 metric tonnes to 20,000 metric tonnes. Therefore, he should be asked to account for whatever happened as the governor at the time and not me.
“Advance payment was given to the contractor and consultant in April 2007 and the supply of grains to the Federal Government commenced in May 2007 and I handed over on May 29.”