Kano files criminal charges against Accountant-General, bank MD for diverting N100m LG funds

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Aisha Bello, former Kano AG
Aisha Mohammed Bello

The Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission has filed a criminal charge against the immediate-past Accountant General of the state, Aisha Bello and the Managing Director of Grassroots Microfinance Bank, Farida Tahir over alleged illegal diversion of N100m from the State Joint Local Government account.

Former Kano state Accountant-General, Aisha Bello
Former Kano state Accountant-General, Aisha Bello

DAILY NIGERIAN learnt the anti-graft agency files the charges through a direct complaint No. KA/1538 brought under the provision of Section 143(c) of Criminal Procedure Code Laws of Kano State and by virtue of Section 29 and 30 of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Law 2008 (as amended).

The duo was charged with an offence of cheating, criminal breach of trust by servant, conspiracy, refusal to give information and making false statement or return punishable under Section 97, 314, 322 of the Penal Code Laws and 42, and 26 of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Law 2008 (as amended).

It was also revealed that the anti-graft agency has applied to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation for fiat to prosecute 2 commercial banks over money laundering in connection with the case.

On March 31, DAILY NIGERIAN reported that Mrs Bello had allegedly connived with the managing director of the bank, Farida M Tahir, to deposit the money on December 29, 2016 under the pretext of fixed deposit.

Inside sources told this newspaper that the former accountant general refused to return the money despite pressure by the state government to break the deposit.

“The commission in the first place requested the money to be returned back to the account of origin (state joint local government account) since both the bank manager and the former accountant general as well as the former director treasury who signed the withdrawal instrument alongside all claimed the money was indeed a fixed deposit which the bank failed to defreeze as requested in Jan 2017.

“Under normal circumstances, a depositor can claim his deposit anytime but the bank manager instead went to the court to stop the investigation of the commission.

“It is only the specific government agencies that can invest government interest and the accountant general of whose responsibility is keeping government accounts and records thereof.

“The commission maintained that the claim of the bank manager that the transaction between her and the accountant general is purely civil and the funds are for investment purposes has exposed the criminality behind the deal which the commission vows to investigate and deal with accordingly.

“The action of the bank in accepting the funds in the first place while it is clearly prohibited under the CBN rules on micro finance, contravenes the provision of Section 2 of the Money Laundering Provision Act.

“The action of the former accountant general also violates the provisions of Section 26 of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission law 2008 (as amended),” said our source.

DAILY NIGERIAN learnt that the commission is hamstrung in the probe as Mrs Bello smartly obtained experte order against the commission.

“The order against our statutory functions adversely affects the quality of evidence the commission may provide during the prosecution.

“The commission will do everything possible to recover the funds. We have applied for a fiat from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation to effectively prosecute the case in accordance with relevant laws,” the source added.

Following Mrs Bello’s sudden resignation on February 22, the state government said the former accountant general had case to answer at the state anti-graft agency.

“Thorough investigation of the management of state finances including contracts payment, salary payments and alleged salary deductions among others, by the state Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission will continue while the state government takes appropriate necessary measures on the management of the offices of the Accountant General and Sub-Treasurer pending the final conclusion of the investigations,” said a statement issued February 22 by the state commissioner for Information, Muhammad Garba.