Even with the ruling of Justice Mohammed Yahaya Kano High Court asking the Economic and Financial Crimes commission, (EFCC) to halt its intention to arrest the immediate past governor of Kano state, Senator Muhammad Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso over allegations of tampering with the fund of pensioners and workers in Kano, northern Nigeria, the once larger-than-life politician has found himself in a deep mess as even those in Kano who once praised him to high heavens are now scorning him, following the revelations in a petition forwarded to EFCC by Concerned Kano State Workers And Pensioners.
Nigerian Beacon obtained a copy of the five-page petition from Bashir Nasir And Co. Chambers, solicitors of the group. In a covering letter dated 20th May, 2015, from the solicitors signed by A.B. Bulama Esq., they told EFCC that, we have the instruction of our client to forward to your god office a petition against the Governor of Kano state, Engr. RabiÃº Musa Kwankwaso, the Commissioner of Finance, Kano state and the Accountant General, Kano state which was personally signed by some representatives of our client.â€
Based on this information, the EFCC swung into action. They invited Senator Kwankwaso last month, but he urged them to invite the Accountant General with the argument that he alone could provide the explanation they needed on the matter. They Accountant General was invited, detained and was taken on bail by a prominent traditional ruler in the state. When attempts was made to arrest Kwankwaso, he ran to a Kano High Court situated in Gezawa, asking the Court to stop the anti-graft commission from arresting and harassing him until the case which has been adjourned to July 15 is determined. Before the court ruling today, Kwankwaso had imposed a self house arrest on himself to evade arrest from agents of the agency. Justice Mohammed Yahaya in his ruling described Kwankwasoâ€™s claim that the EFCC was after him as baseless and a mere speculation and declined to grant the request for an order of the court restraining EFCC from arresting Kwankwaso. The court further ordered for a hearing notice to be served on EFCC through courier service. The counsel to Kwankwaso, Barrister Okechukwu Eze told the court that, My client has been in his house over the threat of arrest by the EFCC and have been denied the liberty to perform his legislative duties as mandated by voters of Kano central District. We express fear that Kwankwasoâ€™s right to liberty, freedom of movement as guaranteed under the constitution is likely to be violated by EFCC.â€
Trouble started for the former APC presidential aspirant when on 20 May, 2015, the Concerned Kano State Workers And Pensioners approached the EFCC chairman with a petition entitled Complaint Against His Excellency, The Governor Of Kano State, Engr. RabiÃº Musa Kwankwaso, Hon. Commissioner Of Finance, The Kano State Accountant General And The Trustees Of The Kano State Pension Trust Fund.â€ The petition signed by Lamido M. Matawalle, Comrade Saâ€™idu Bello, Comrade Badamasi Umar and Ado Ibrahim D.Y. reads thus: Pursuant to the provisions of Section 210 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, the Kano State House of Assembly enacted the Gratuity Law No.1 of 2007. The law, provided in Section 7 that: 7(1) for every fiscal year in which an officer is employed, the employer shall contribute monthly to the scheme an amount equal to a minimum of 25 percent of the employeeâ€™s total emolument, in the following proportion: a. 17 percent by the employer, and b. 8 percent by the employer.
Section 6 of the law provided the purpose for which the law was enacted which was to ensure that every person who worked in the Kano state public service receives his benefits as at when due. The law made an elaborate provision as to the establishment of the management, functions and independence. Se section 33 to 40 of the law. Section 41 of the law underlines the importance of a proper management of the funds established under the law. The section provides in section 41 that: where any organization of the government defaults in remitting contribution due to the fund, the Trustees shall bring this to the notice of the Governor for intervention failure of which the Trustees shall have the power to proceed with legal action the defaulting organization.â€™
It is based on the above provisions of the Kano State Pension and Gratuity Law No. 1 of 2007 that we hereby complain to your good office about the activities and inactions/omissions of the above individuals for your fair investigation. We are constrained to write this petition to you because as serving public officers of Kano state and pensioners, we have a stake in how the funds we contributed to and are now contributing for our benefit are managed. We also have to complain to you because the persons who are by the law enjoined to ensure prudent management of the funds are the person using/abusing their offices to engage in activities bordering on fraudulent activities and disregarding due process in dealing with the funds contributed by us. To further complicate issues, even though Section 42 of the law provides that there shall be at least 12 (twelve ) ordinary meetings of the Trustees in every calendar year, since the assumption of office of the present administration of the state, no such meeting took place even once and such a meeting would have been the only avenue we could have notified those concerned with our grievances.
ACTIVITIES OF THE INDIVIDUALS COMPLAINED ABOUT: His Excellency, Engr. (Dr.) RabiÃº Musa Kwankwaso: He is the Governor of Kano state; he ordered his Honourable Commissioner of Finance to retain the contributions deducted from June, 2011 to date and had persistently refused to remit the funds deducted from workers salary and the contributions of the employers. The amount retained by the Commissioner of Finance and the Accountant General amounts to N10, 049, 763, 446.06. It was when the workers in the state started demanding for accountability, the Governor explained that he had built tree (3) warehouses for pensioners at the Free Trade Zone in Kano. He further explained that his housing project known as Amana City has now been transferred to Pension Trust Fund, all in lieu of the retained over ten billion Naira. This explanation and decision of the Governor is both illegal, contrary to the said law and borders on fraud because: 1. The Governor is not a trustee of the funds and thus lacks the authority to deal with the funds as he likes. Section 42 to 52 of the la made detail provisions as to how the funds contributed shall be utilized.
2. No accountability was employed before the above assets were transferred by the Governor to the trust fund as no valuation was done and the business viability of the assets were not ascertained. In fact the monies used in building all housing projects in the state like Kwankwasiyya village, Bandarawo and Amana city were undertaken by him with monies he caused to be withdrawn from the pension funds.
3. Further, His Excellency, the Governor sold a property known as No. 770 Central Business District, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja at an unknown price which was earlier bought by the trustees dissolved by him.
4. The Governor contrary to the provisions of section 33 to 35 dissolved the trustees and appointed unqualified persons and changed the nomenclature of the secretary of the trust fund and leveled him executive secretary without amending the law.
THE HONOURABLE COMMISSIONER OF FINANCE AND THE ACCOUNTANT GENERAL: These officers are in charge of Kano state finances. The contributions of all the workers in Kano state are remitted to them by all the three concerned organizations (the state Government, Local Governments and SUBEB) in the first instances. They hold such deducted funds in trust in trust before remitting to the trustees. They have refused to make such remittance since the inception of the present administration in Kano state, but instead allowed the Governor to utilize it as he thinks fit.
c. KANO STATE PENSION FUND TRUSTEES: The members of the trustees who were dissolved by the Governor bought a piece of land with an area of 6.4 hecters from the Kano state Housing Corporation before they were dissolved. The land was given to an entity called Urban Shelters Limited by the improperly constituted Trustees who subdivided the piece of land into two (2) and utilized one part to build Ãmerican International Schoolâ€™ and built a residence called Evergreen Residenceâ€™ on the other part. We believe these developments were made on the said piece of land without the consent of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA). This action may jeopardize the ownership of the plot. The agreement between the improperly constituted trustees and the said Urban Shelters Limited has been shrouded in secrecy.
2. The pension trustees deposited the sum of N2 billion in Euro Bank PLC, Kano branch. This deposit was made at the instance of he Governor; soon after the said deposit was made, he Bank went into liquidation. The Governor refused to follow up for a claim of the said deposit in the Bank and also ensure that the money deposited is retrieved.
3. Since the inception of this administration, the trustees never audited nor published annual audit report as stipulated by the Pension and Gratuity Law, 2007. We believe the above actions and inactions of these persons as detailed above flagrantly violate the provisions of the Kano State Pension and Gratuity Law, 2007, the provisions of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act and order relevant laws. It is in view of the foregoing that we write to your good office to demand you to launch a thorough investigation into the issues we have raised in this letter and take necessary action(s). Find attached herewith some relevant documents and correspondence for your perusal and necessary action, please,â€ the petition concluded.