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Anti-graft group calls for probe of Matawalle over ‘irregularities’ in Gusau airport project

Anti-graft group calls for probe of Matawalle over ‘irregularities’ in Gusau airport project
October 30
07:21 2023

The Civil Society Advocacy Groups for Accountability and Probity, a coalition of CSOs, has asked President Bola Tinubu to sack Bello Matawalle, minister of defence, for alleged dereliction of duty.

Speaking during a press conference in Abuja during the weekend, Danesi Momoh, the group’s national coordinator, said the minister must be probed for his inability to fully account for the multi-billion naira Gusau International Cargo Airport.

The group also called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to step in and probe alleged misuse of N11 billion cargo airport fund.

Momoh noted that the recovery of funds diverted from the project will go a long way to develop the state.

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“We are also aware that in his capacity as minister of state for defence, Matawalle has decided to politicise the banditry and terrorism attacks in his home state of Zamfara,” the group said.

“He has not officially visited the state to assess the security situation but rather chose to embark on military tourism in faraway Turkey while blocking the Governor of Zamfara State from meeting Mr. President on this burning issue.

“On the heels of these unsavoury developments, we call on Mr. President to demonstrate the right action in promoting the fight against corruption in public office. People like Bello Matawelle must be shown the exit from public service and made to pay for their wrongs to serve as deterrent to others.

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“For a man who once said the cost of the Cargo Airport in Gusau was ₦28 billion and then quickly reduced it to ₦11 billion in round figures, there is no way Nigerians will not be convinced that Matawalle was both the contractor and the awarding institution.

“No reputable bidder would agree to a drastic reduction of 61% in cost without a corresponding reduction in the scope of work. This indeed raises questions about the integrity of the bidding process, if there was indeed any at all.

“His claim that Contract Financing Facility (CFF) was used for the Cargo Airport whereas he actually paid upfront for the project from state funds goes to show that he had forgotten that he was bound by the procurement Act.”

But Matawalle has denied the allegation of embezzling billions from the Zamfara cargo airport project.

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In a statement by Ibrahim Dosara , his erstwhile commissioner of information, Matawalle said the accusation remains a calculated mischief and diversionary tactics of Dauda Lawal, his successor, to cover up for his inefficiency.

The former governor insisted that he inherited the cargo airport project contract from his predecessor, adding that his resolve to go head with the project was in the best interest of the people of the state.

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