Niger govt reacts to allegations of misappropriating N1.4 billion hotel funds

Posted by John Adams, Minna | 17 November 2019 | 214 times

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•Niger State governor, Abubakar Sani Bello

The Niger State Government has reacted to allegations by the former Governor of the state, Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu, that the state Governor Abubakar Sani Bello has misappropriated the N1.4 billion he (Aliyu) left behind for the abandoned five star hotel project in Minna, the state capital.

The state government in a statement in Minna on Sunday by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mary Noel Berge, described the allegation as misleading and an attempt to win the sympathy of the people for Aliyu’s “dying People’s Democratic Party” ahead of the November 30 local government elections in the state.

The press secretary expressed dismay that despite the respect accorded the ex-Governor by the Bello administration as a man that has governed the state for eight years, “he (Aliyu) could allow politics to becloud his sense of judgment by spreading falsehood against the government just to achieve political popularity”.

The former governor had during his 64th birthday celebrations last week in Minna alleged that he left N1.4 billion behind for the Minna international 5 star hotel project.

The funds, former governor Aliyu disclosed, were left in an Escrow account of the state, and was for the payment of the contractor when the job had reached a certain level of completion.

“To my surprise the contractor was invited by this government and given the whole amount, after two months he (contractor) disappeared from site and has not returned to finish the job,” he said.

“Am I to be held responsible, the government that invited and paid the contractor should be asked to account for the money, ” former governor Aliyu declared.

But the government in a statement, a copy which of was made available our correspondent in Minna, disclosed that the balance of the escrow account established in respect of the 5-Star Hotel Project held at Zenith Bank Plc is N1,478,451,706.96 and intact.

The statement added that “present administration has therefore not released any money to any contractor as alleged by the former Governor.”

The government, which accused ex-Governor Aliyu of resorting to blackmail to achieve political relevance in the state, pointed out that “our records also indicate that the said ‘contractor’ is in fact a supposed investor that is expected to be largely implementing the project from his own resources under a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) agreement.

“We therefore invite all stakeholders to crosscheck this position from either Zenith Bank Plc or Niger State Ministry of Finance,” adding that “It could have been more honorable for the former governor to always do his home well before dishing out falsehood again the government.”

This latest allegation by former governor Aliyu is coming barely three weeks after he accused his successor of diverting $181 million Islamic Development Bank loan he (Aliyu) applied for got approval for the dualisation of Minna-Bida highway. (Sunday Sun)

Source: News Express

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