Matawalle spent billions to furnish uncompleted governor's lodges - Zamfara govt
The state government said the former governor allegedly connived with some contractors in violating established public service rules.
The state government said Matawalle approved 100% payment of over N1bn for fencing, landscaping, and furnishing of governor's lodges in the LGAs even before the project began.
In a statement issued in Gusau on Sunday, October 29, 2023, the spokesperson of the Zamfara Governor, Sulaiman Bala Idris, said it released some documents that exposed "a series of violations of public service rules by the previous government of Matawalle."
According to Idris, the administration of the current Governor of the state, Dauda Lawal, is raising public awareness on alleged financial recklessness of his predecessor.
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.
On the content of the documents, Idris said Matawalle during his administration allegedly approved the payment of ₦1,966,035,160.00 to a contractor, BES BELMOND in 2021 and how he paid other contractors 100% upfront for the projects that had not yet started.
"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 Kaura 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," he said.
Idris said that the former governor allegedly connived with BES BELMON in violating established public service rules, adding that the Zamfara State Government would expose the "financial banditry and malpractices committed by the previous administration in the interest of transparency."
He said, "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."
While calling on the contractor to return the sum of ₦1,966,035,160.00 that was illegally and criminally withdrawn from the state's treasury to the State Government, Idris maintained that the current administration would rescue and rebuild the state.
However, efforts to reach Matawalle for his reaction to the allegations against him were unsuccessful as his phone line was not reachable.
JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!
Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: