The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested the acting Accountant General of Imo State, Mr Uzoho Casmir, for allegedly laundering N1.050bn through a new generation bank on behalf of Governor Rochas Okorocha.
This came as the anti-graft agency arrested six commissioners and other government officials in Kwara State for allegedly diverting N1bn a week before the presidential and National Assembly elections.
Casmir’s arrest on Thursday by the EFCC followed intelligence report that Okorocha allegedly intended to use the money to buy votes to enable his son-in-law Uche Nwosu of Action Alliance to win Saturday’s governorship poll in the state .
Casmir was alleged to have withdrawn the money from the bank in three tranches between Tuesday and Thursday.
Sources said he allegedly withdrew N200m on Tuesday, N500m on Wednesday and N350m on Thursday.
Our correspondent learnt that the EFCC had blocked the accounts.
Casmir was before his appointment the Director of Finance in Okorocha’s government and was in 2016 fingered in a N2bn bailout fund scam.
According to the EFCC, among those arrested in Kwara are the Commissioner for Finance, Nurudeen Banu; Accountant General, Sulaiman Ishola; Commissioner for Water Resources, Yusuf Abdulkadir; Head of Service, Susan Oluwole; Special Adviser, Commissioner for Energy, Eleja Taiwo Banu; Chief of Staff and Abdulwahab Yusuf.
The report read in part, “The Ilorin zonal office on March 7, 2019 uncovered about N1bn cash withdrawal by the Kwara State Government, a week before the presidential and National Assembly elections.
“Those arrested are currently being interrogated in respect of the suspicious withdrawal.”
It added, “Investigations by EFCC operatives revealed that the said money was withdrawn from the state’s account domiciled with Sterling Bank.”
The report also said a government official, Hafees Yusuf, confirmed to the operatives that he got instructions from his boss to withdraw some money in February.
“My Controller of Finance told me that the sum of N350m was paid into the account of Kwara State Government and I was instructed by my boss to raise cheques of various sums of money, which I did and were duly signed by the Controller of Finance; I withdrew the monies as I was instructed by my supervisor,” the report quoted Yusuf as saying.
However, the Media Adviser to the Kwara State Governor, Muyideen Akorede, denied allegations that the N1bn was meant for vote-buying.
Akorede told our correspondent on the telephone that the money was appropriated for in the budget and thus could not have been illegal to withdraw.
He said, “I can confirm that some government officials were invited by the EFCC over the money. However, they were not detained but asked to go and return.
“As far as I am aware, the money was appropriated in the budget. It was not for elections.”