Former Katsina Gov Ibrahim Shehu Shema has been docked by the EFCC for allegedly laundering N5B SURE-P funds.
The money was allegedly looted from the Subsidy Re-investment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) due to the State from 2012 to 2015.
SURE-P was a scheme put in place by former President Goodluck Jonathan after the Occupy Nigeria protests of 2012.
Funds meant for the payment of petrol subsidy by the federal government were funneled into SURE-P for the provision of infrastructure and social amenities instead.
However, pundits say, the scheme became slush funds for a couple of State governors.
Shema was succeeded by former House of Representatives Speaker, Aminu Bello Masari in Katsina govt house in 2015. He has been hounded by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) since he left power.
Shema pleaded not guilty to all 26-count charges read to him this week.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had dragged Shema before the court months prior, but his plea couldn't be taken due to issues raised by his counsel, Emmanuel Ukala SAN.
One of the charges read: "You Ibrahim Shema whilst being the executive governor of Katsina state and one Idris Kwado (now at large) between June, 2014 and May 2015 at Katsina, Katsina state within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, did conspire to commit an offence to wit: money laundering and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18(a) of the money laundering (prohibition) Act 2011 as amended by the money laundering (prohibition) amendment act 2012 and punishable under section 15(3) of the same act".
Shema alongside three others, are facing another 24-count charge at the State High Court on alleged financial misdemeanour to the tune of N11B.
Gov Masari recently told Pulse that he isn't on a witch-hunt for his predecessor.
"Shema had 8 years. Even his own 8 years, I can spend another 4 years probing and not achieving much in terms of governance. It will be a waste of time, unless the financial mismanagement could become so obvious that nobody could do anything about it", the Governor said.
"The record from the bank shows us that ALGON was removing from the bank 9.5, 9.5, 9.5. The money was withdrawn by ALGON in cash. That’s local government money. And some of the funds were withdrawn by ministry of local government by the cashier.
"So, these are the funds were we said, Ok, since you have taken these funds without any records of spending....ALGON is like any other umbrella association. Can you take government money and give these associations? There’s no rule that says you should do that.
"And if you gave them the money, how was it spent? And you know, government created SURE-P. We discovered that throughout, there was not a single purchase order, contract, job order given to use funds from SURE-P. These funds were taken. Cash.
"Some of the cash money, we couldn’t trace what they said they had procured.
"So, we aren’t probing the previous government in terms of contracts. We are asking about money that was taken in cash from the treasury. We are asking, where is the money?"
Shema and Masari have endured a frosty relationship since 2015.