By Emmanuel Oloniruha
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) on Monday said no money was stolen or embezzled from the Paris Club debt refunds to states or from any other source.
The Head, Media and Public Affairs at NGF Secretariat, Mr Abulrazque Barkindo, said this in a statement in Abuja.
Barkindo denied allegation that Gov. Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara and Chairman of the Forum, was building a three-million dollar hotel from monies stolen from refunds to states.
Barkindo said that the false allegation gave cause for worry.
“The reports contain harmful, damaging and libelous insinuations which remain largely unsubstantiated, despite the fact that it attributes the leaks to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) officials in Lagos.
“Governor Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar has said emphatically that he does not even own a plot of land in Lagos not to talk of a hotel.’’
He said some EFCC officials in Lagos claimed that “they have found a hotel being constructed by Gov. Yari with three million dollars he stole from London-Paris Club loan refund to Nigerian states”.
He also quoted the report as saying that “apart from the $3million, Gov. Yari also diverted N500 million from the Paris Club refund to pay off a loan”,
Barkindo described all the claims as wrong, harmful, libelous and misleading disclosures.
“Gov. Yari is not building any hotel in Lagos nor were any monies stolen or embezzled from the Paris-London Club refunds to states or from any other source.’’
Bakindo said that an online medium quoted the EFCC extensively as its source.
He said that the NGF was alarmed that the EFCC continued to feed the media fibs at the expense of its hard-earned reputation as anti-graft agency that Nigerians used to respect.
“This is perhaps why the EFCC has lost most of the high-profile corruption cases at the law courts after it had unfairly stage-managed media trials and caused their victims personal pain and public umbrage.
“This report, typical of most of the exclusive leaks that are becoming characteristic of the sources that court some sections of the media, lacks detail and compelling evidence to be fit to print.
Barkindo said that the sources were courageous enough to mention a hotel in Lekki area of Lagos but gave neither a street name nor any specific information on the property to give credibility to the allegations.
“This does no service to any investigation nor does it help the development of our country Nigeria.
“The media, we all know, is entitled to perform its duties as watchdog of society, which is enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“It is not, however, entitled to make unfair attacks, based on unfounded, false and unsubstantiated allegations against responsible public office holders.’’