From Muhammad Kabir, Kano
Zamfara State Government has produced documents showing how former Governor and Minister of State for Defence, Bello Matawalle, approved 100% payment of over one billion Naira for fencing, landscaping, and furnishing of Governor’s lodges in 14 Local Government Areas even before the project began.
The previous administration under Bello Matawalle initiated a project to construct and furnish Governor’s Lodges in all the 14 local government areas of the State.
In a statement issued in Gusau on Sunday, the spokesperson of the Zamfara Governor, Sulaiman Bala Idris, noted that the documents released were evidence from an already opened can of worms exposing a series of violations of public service rules by the previous government of Matawalle.
According to him, Governor Dauda Lawal’s administration is raising public awareness of Bello Matawalle’s financial recklessness, where projects were awarded, 100% of funds withdrawn, and disbursed for the abandoned projects.
The statement read in part: “It is against the public service rules to make full payment for a project that has not yet commenced; there are processes and guidelines which were intentionally not adhered to. We must hold accountable those who award and pay for suspicious contracts and recover what rightfully belongs to the people of Zamfara.
“Among such projects initiated by the past government of Bello Matawalle is the construction, fencing, landscaping, furnishing, and external electrification for the Governor’s Lodge in each Local Government Area.
“It is important to note that the amount of funds allocated and disbursed for the construction of each lodge varied, and different contractors were assigned to execute the projects. However, it is ironic that some contractors received full payment before the project even began, while the majority received over 90% payment.
“The released documents reveal how Bello Matawalle authorised the payment of ₦1,966,035,160.00 to BES BELMON Nigeria Limited on the 27th of December 2021 for the fencing, landscaping, furnishing, and external electrification of the Governor’s Lodge, which is still under construction across the 14 Local Governments Areas.
“Contractors were paid 100% upfront in Kauran Namoda, Zurmi, Bakura, Maradun, Bukkuyum, Bungudu, and Gummi before the projects started.
“The past administration of Bello Matawalle on the 30th of April 2020 has made a total payment of ₦ 324,410,211.00 to SWAT AGA Construction Limited for the construction of the Governor’s lodge in Kauran Namoda. The payment was disbursed from the Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, and a payment voucher carrying the date and details has been released.
“Furthermore, we present more vouchers exposing total payments of another ₦324,410,211.00 on the 30th of April 2020 to SWAT AGA for constructing a Governor’s lodge in Zurmi Local Government Area.
“It is disheartening to uncover how the same BES BELMON Nig. Limited that was paid 100% for furnishing a yet-to-be-constructed 14 lodges received ₦323,492,050. 00 on the 30th of April 2020 to construct a Governor’s Lodge in Bakura Local Government Area; also, another full payment of ₦323,492,050.00 on the same 30th of April 2020 to build a Governor’s lodge in Maradun Local Government Area.
“The public should take note of BES BELMON Nig. Limited and its apparent connivance in violation of established public service rules. Bello Matawalle approved another payment of ₦323,492,050.00 on the 30th of April 2020 to BES BELMON to construct the Governor’s Lodge in Bukkuyum Local Government Area. The intriguing question is, who owns this firm?
“Moreover, on the 30th of April 2020, Bello Mohammed Matawalle approved yet another 100% payment of ₦323,492,050.00 to BES BELMON to construct the Governor’s Lodge in Bungudu Local Government Area.
“The Zamfara State Government will continue to expose financial banditry and malpractices committed by the previous administration in the interest of transparency.
“Our government is committed to rescuing, reforming and rebuilding Zamfara.
As part of this mission, we consider it an obligation to expose financial recklessness and ensure justice prevails. As such, we call on BES BELMON Nig. Limited to IMMEDIATELY return the sum of ₦1,966,035,160.00 to the State Government, which was illegally and criminally withdrawn from the State’s treasury and disbursed to the firm.”