There’s a time-tested belief in the indispensable role of statesmen in building a peaceful and virile society. This is because they combine the role of societal moral shock absorber and rallying point for excellence. It is what has been lacking in the history of Zamfara State since its creation 26 years ago.
There is a need to revisit the leadership question in Zamfara. The Zamfara paradox is that leaders expected to play the role of statesmen who should serve as the moral fiber of the society and busy vandalising and terrorising the state’s treasury.
For the record, in 2021, one of the Financial Monitoring Institutions in Nigeria flagged the transaction of the Permanent Secretary of the Zamfara State Government House as a suspicious transaction. It was reported that on the 15th of January 2021, the Perm. Sec. had dubiously unusually made multiple cash withdrawals using a Zenith Bank with account number 1014656551.
Documents available exposed how the Ex-Perm. Sec. Abubakar Mohammed Barmo used several methods to siphon funds from the Zamfara State treasury by conniving with some individuals – Surajo Abubakar, Abubakar Mohammed, Nasiru Abubakar, and Abubakar Wakili. There is the likelihood that the looted funds were diverted into cash intensive and money services. Huge Cash withdrawals without any economic justification are a red flag, considering the country’s situation, especially Zamfara State.
How can a sane person dwell into multiple cash withdrawals from the state’s treasury? For instance, on the 3rd of December 2020 and 9th of December, 2020 cash withdrawals totaling N30,000,000 (Thirty million naira only) for each day were received, and the customer claimed the cash withdrawals were for administrative expenditures of the office of Perm. Sec. of the Zamfara State Government House.
The Ex-Permanent Secretary, Abubakar Mohammed Barmo, was among the signatories. He holds the traditional title of “Dan Galadiman Marafa”. It was also exposed that he is a close associate of the Zamfara State Governor, Bello Mohammed Matawalle.
To shield him from financial misdoings, Barmo was later transferred from the office of the Governor to the Ministry of Local Government Affairs on the 25th of August, 2021. This is a man that several NGOs were linked to, which include Alhaji Abubakar Muh’d Barmo Foundation In Support Of Matawalle; Dodo Women Intervention Foundation, and Muhammadu Sharu Mso Organisation. In August 2021, He was among the delegation that visited the Governor to commend him on his efforts in the fight against banditry and kidnapping.
The financial document has revealed that from 20th April 2020 to 11th January 2021, there were a total of 165 transactions totaling N2,761,319,715 (Two billion, seven hundred and sixty-one million, three hundred and nineteen thousand, seven hundred and fifteen naira only) and six suspicious transactions.
More to it is that the total deposits from the currency transaction accounted for 56% amounting to N1,572,368,155 (One Billion, five hundred and seventy-two million, three hundred and sixty-eight thousand, one hundred and fifty-five naira only). The total withdrawals from the currency transaction accounted for 43% amounting to N1,188,951,560 (One Billion, one hundred and eighty-eight million, nine hundred and fifty-one thousand, five hundred and sixty naira only).
It is pertinent to note that the major deposits to the Zenith Bank account 1014656551 connected to the office of the Perm. Sec. Zamfara Government House was from the Ministry of Finance, Zamfara State Accountant General, FAAC Account, and Zamfara State Gov’t VAT Account.
Furthermore, it is interesting to know that Surajo Abubakar, Abubakar Mohd, Nasiru Abubakar, and Abubakar Wakili were the signatories of the account linked to the Permanent Secretary, Government House Zamfara State and also signatories to the Office of the Chief of Staff, Government House Account, Zamfara State.
It was uncovered that Surajo Abubakar, Abubakar Mohd, Nasiru Abubakar, and Abubakar Wakili were among the primary beneficiaries of funds from the account. Their pattern of transactions was highly indicative of money laundering. This is because 90% of withdrawals were via cash.
Between 8th January 2020 to 12th March 2020, there were 20 cash withdrawals totaling N180,034, 500.00 (One hundred and eighty million, thirty-four thousand, five hundred naira only) in favour of Nasiru Abubakar. Analysis revealed a pattern whereby immediately funds were deposited into the account, there will be cash withdrawals totaling N30,000,000 (Thirty million naira only) by self in 3 tranches of N10,000,000 (Ten million naira only).
Between 14th May 2020 to 7th January 2021 there were 56 withdrawals totaling N245,713,370 (Two hundred and forty-five million, seven hundred and thirteen thousand, three hundred and seventy naira only) by Surajo Abubakar through cash withdrawals. He was the highest beneficiary of cash withdrawals from the account.
In October, 2020, there was a total cash withdrawal of N39, 282,000 (Thirty-nine million, two hundred and eighty-two thousand naira only) made by Surajo Abubakar. His transaction pattern was cash structured in three tranches of N10, 000,000 (Ten million naira only) monthly.
Between 7th April 2020 to 9th September 2020, there were 44 (forty-four) outflows totaling N212,266,575.00 (Two hundred and twelve million, two hundred and sixty-six thousand, five hundred and seventy-five naira only) by Abubakar Wakili executed through cash withdrawals. He was the second highest beneficiary of the cash withdrawals from the account. It was revealed that Wakili was also withdrawing in cash without any economic justification. The majority of his cash withdrawals were in tranches of N10, 000,000 (Ten million naira only)
Between 3rd December 2020 to 11th January 2021, there was a total cash withdrawal of N130,000, 000 (One hundred and thirty million naira only) made by Abubakar Mohammed.
These heart-touching cash withdrawals are posing a significant threat to Zamfara State. This is a State with the highest level of insecurity, an educational system at a critical level of total collapse, and devastating healthcare facilities and infrastructure. Yet, government officials expected to serve as gatekeepers are being used as a conduit pipe to launder money.
Tanimu Salihu Mafara is the chairman, Zamfara Alternative Forum,he writes from Gusau , Zamfara State