Monday, September 20, 2021

Fraud allegations: Katsina govt slams cybercrime charges against Mahadi Shehu

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Ibrahim Ramalan
Ibrahim Ramalan is a graduate of Mass Communications from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria. With nearly a decade-long, active journalism practice, Mr Ramalan has been able to rise from a cub reporter to the exalted position of an editor; first as Arts Editor with the Blueprint Newspapers before resigning in 2019; second and presently as an Associate Editor of the Daily Nigerian online newspaper. He can be reached via [email protected], or www.facebook.com/ibrahim.ramalana, or @McRamalan on Twitter.
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Katsina State Government has disclosed plans to drag a Kaduna- based businessman, Mahadi Shehu, before a Federal High Court over alleged cybercrime against the state government.

Recall that Mr Shehu, who is an indigene of Katsina State, had accused the Governor Aminu Masari led government of spending over N52.6 billion under the guise of security in the state.

This is just as DAILY NIGERIAN had fact-checked Mr Shehu’s claims and, after careful scrutiny of documents, the allegations were discovered to be unsubstantiated and largely false.

But while speaking with newsmen in Katsina on Thursday, the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Ahmad El-Marzuq, said the decision to file the case followed the state government’s resolve to clear its name and integrity before the public.

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According to him, by Mr Shehu’s allegations, the integrity of the state is at stake, hence the need to put the records straight.

He said: “We intend to protect the integrity of the state government, which has been elected by the people, we cannot sit back and watch our image being tarnished by false allegations of embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds.

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“Our integrity is at stake. Even when an institution that felt slandered by unfounded allegations of such kind reserves the legal right to seek redress in court, so does the Katsina State Government.

“We are filing the charges at the Federal High Court because the charges are based on ‘cyber crimes’ and it is only the FHC that has the jurisdiction to hear such cases.”

Interrogating Mr Shehu’s Claims

Careful scrutiny of the documents being circulated by Mr Shehu show a straitjacket pattern; memo after memo requesting money in the name of security ostensibly from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the State. The so-called memos direct that the monies be paid from the state government’s Security Escrow Account. All the memos are allegedly from the Department of Budget and Economic Planning and signed by one Bature S.N. Danlami.

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FACT ONE: Contrary to claims by Mr Shehu in his interviews and documents in circulation, available records show that the state government’s Security Escrow Account is NOT in Fidelity Bank. The Fidelity Bank account number being bandied as the security account is actually that of a new account opened in June to collate payments from the sale of auctioned government assets. The statement of that account obtained show that there has NEVER been a debit on the account.

FACT TWO: The purported releases obtained from Mr Shehu for the alleged security expenditure all carry the same stamp of authority; the two signatures of one Bature S.N. Danlami. Curiously, however, the two signatures are identical in all the circulated documents. This raised the biggest credibility question for what is expected to be the proof of the weighty allegations. There is a serious improbability, or indeed impossibility, for anyone to sign a document exactly the same way, over the course of three years (2018 to 2020), as Mr Shehu claims.

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FACT THREE: Available documents obtained by this newspaper show that what the government spent for the purchase of operational vehicles for security agents, logistics support and allowances as support for over five years is actually N5,085,714,929. The breakdown of the amount, which is sighted by our reporter shows that the highest spent for a year was N1,279,354,170 in 2019, which the year the state witnessed the highest escalation of attacks from the armed bandits, leading to major military operations to root out the miscreants.

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CONCLUSION: It is evident from the foregoing that the allegation of the N52.6 billion said to be spent on security is not true, going by the analysis of the claimant’s statements and documents in our possession.

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