Alleged N423bn fraud: How we spent W’Bank loans – El-Rufai’s ex-aides

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Former aides of ex-Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, have dismissed the N423 billion fraud allegations levelled against the immediate-past governor’s administration by the state’s House of Assembly.

The ex-officials in a statement in Abuja, on Friday, explained that the El-Rufai administration utilised the various World Bank loans on various developmental projects and infrastructure in the state, including the Urban Renewal Programme and various World Bank initiatives.

The ad hoc committee set up by the Kaduna State House of Assembly to investigate all finances, loans, and contracts awarded under the immediate-past governor had indicted El-Rufai and some of his appointees of siphoning N423bn state funds.

The assembly, while adopting the report of the 13-man panel, asked Governor Uba Sani to refer El-Rufai, his commissioner of finance, and other aides to relevant security agencies for investigation.

Following the release of the report, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was reported to have set up a panel to investigate the alleged fraud.

But in a statement signed by the former Commissioner of Environment, Jafaru Sani; former Commissioner for Human Services and Social Development, Hafsat Baba; ex-Commissioner, Planning and Budget Commission, Umma Aboki; and ex-finance commissioner, and ex-Chief of Staff, Bashir Saidu, the former officials criticised the state assembly for failing to release a certified true copy of the report despite numerous requests.

They said their response to the allegations against them was based on a version of the document that emerged on social media after the House session on June 5, 2024.

Explaining how the loans were utilised, the ex-environment commissioner, Sani, who read the statement, said, “The government of Malam Nasir El-Rufai inherited external debts of USD234m in 2015. It followed due process in securing its loans and the testimony of Aminu Shagali, who was the speaker between June 2015 and early 2020 confirms this.

“To enhance the delivery of its progressive governance agenda for Kaduna State, the El-Rufai Administration approached the World Bank for credit.

“The Board of the World Bank approved the credit in June 2017 as a Performance for Result credit of USD350m. The conditions for the grant of this credit were entirely performance-driven. Kaduna State is so far the only subnational in Nigeria that has received this kind of credit.

“Like other loans raised by the El-Rufai administration, the USD 350m World Bank Performance-for-Result loan was properly utilised in furtherance of the development of Kaduna State.

“The documentation submitted in support of the loan application was subjected to the due scrutiny of the fiscal authorities of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the board of the World Bank.’’

The statement further disclosed that after the P4R programme, which ran from 2017 to 2021, the World Bank rated its implementation as satisfactory.

“Amongst the most visible fruits of this loan are the massive infrastructure projects under the Urban Renewal Programme,” it noted.

The ex-officials argued that most of the current administration’s projects were initiated or funded by the El-Rufai administration, including significant educational and health projects.

They stated that all contracts during their tenure followed due process under the Kaduna State Public Procurement Authority Law, employing the framework contracting model to expedite project delivery.

They also criticized the committee’s use of findings from a Deloitte audit commissioned by the El-Rufai administration, which they claimed were invalidated and used without proper context.

The statement highlighted potential conflicts of interest among the committee members, pointing out that Mahmud Ismaila, a committee member, is the biological brother of the governor.

“We will be providing detailed information about the various conflicts of interest among the committee members but one of the most glaring is the fact that an active member of the Ad-hoc Committee, Barrister Mahmud Ismaila, is also a biological brother of Governor Uba Sani,” they added.

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