The immediate past Governor of Katsina State, Barrister Ibrahim Shema, has denied allegations that he diverted billions of naira of SURE-P funds meant for developmental projects, to electoral campaign.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chieftain said a testimony by his former aide, Nasiru Ingawa, before a commission of inquiry that he (Shema) used the money for election and other personal needs, was politically motivated.
He challenged the governor of the state, Aminu Masari, to sue him if he did anything wrong, instead of resorting to what he termed “media trial”.
The commission is investigating the misuse of the N5.7 billion SURE-P fund that accrued to the state under the former administration.
In his testimony before the Justice Muhammad Siraj-led commission of inquiry, Mr. Ingawa had alleged that: “Shema used to tell me: ‘Nasiru, bring the money I approved for you in a memo to my house in the night, we are going to use it for politics’”.
The former aide also quoted Mr. Shema of saying “all purchases in the department will be made directly and in cash without going through the tenders’ board”.
He said the former governor once approved 88 withdrawals of cash from two banks in a single day on the eve of his last day in office.
But Mr. Shema said his former loyalist was being used by the current administration to get at him even as he challenged Ingawa, who was his special adviser on SURE-P, to publish his proof within 48 hours.
Speaking via a statement signed and issued by his spokesman, Oluwabusola Olawale, the embattled former governor said his accuser should back his claims with documented evidence or risk being sued for defamation.
The statement reads:
“Our attention has been drawn to the statement credited to former Special Adviser to former Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema on Sure P, Nasiru Ingawa claiming that Shema directed him to bring Sure P money to his house for political activities. We are saying it without iota of doubt that the statement is wicked lies and part of orchestrated campaign of calumny against the former Governor.
“At no time during the tenure of previous administration that Shema gave such a directive to Nasiru Ingawa as he claimed, and we challenge him if it is true to publish his facts and supporting documents within 48hrs, failure to do so he should be ready to meet the legal team of Ibrahim Shehu Shema in court.
“The information available at our disposal, revealed that Nasiru’s role was connected to the request of his father, Alhaji, Salisu Ingawa (a retired Director) to assist him to secure a federal government appointment through Governor Aminu Bello Masari, the obligation Masari agreed to fulfill on the condition that Nasiru lies against his former boss.
A night before the testimony of Nasiru at the Commission, he was sighted at Katsina Motel in company of Mal. Rabe Nasir who is an aide to Governor Masari and member of the Commission with Masari lawyer perfecting their actions. Also as part of the deal, we learnt Nasiru has been promised to be allowed to run and hide in United States of America where he holds citizenship to evade prosecution.
“We are calling the attention of the public to what is going on at the sitting of Commission of Inquiry set up by Governor Aminu Bello Masari as a media trial with sole aim and purpose to tarnish the reputation of His Excellency Ibrahim Shehu Shema who served Katsina State creditably well. We are also appealing to the public to pressurise Governor Masari to charge Shema to court if truly he abused public trust while in office as a Governor instead of maligning his name at the charade called commission of inquiry.
“It is also curious that Special Adviser to Governor Masari on Budget, Abdullahi Imam admitted at the Commission sitting on Wednesday that Shema administration left about N4billion in the SURE-P account after several denials by Governor Aminu Bello Masari and his officials. We know definitely truth will always prevail over falsehood”.