Elder Statesman and leader of the Northern Elders Council, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, Wednesday acknowledged that he and eight other prominent northerners received 53 not 63 million naira from former Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Tony Anenih.
According to the former Special Assistant (National Assembly Liaison) to Second Republic President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, the money was for advocacy visit to northern traditional rulers to mobilise their subjects for hitch free 2015 general election.
Mr. Anenih had in a letter he reportedly wrote to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) explaining how he disbursed the N260 million paid into his bank account from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), said he gave N63 million to a group coordinated by Mr. Yakassai.
The former PDP BoT chair was said to have explained in the letter to EFCC that he didn’t benefit directly from the money as he only shared it, following instructions.
“Yes, myself (sic) and 8 others collected N53m from chief Tony Anenih to pay advocacy visit to prominent northern emirs to mobilise their subjects for a hitch free 2015 general elections”, Yakassai was quoted as saying in an interview with Vanguard.
The elder statesman disclosed that the payment was sequel to request by the PDP stalwart to make available to him list of “9 apolitical but respected individuals from the north”.
He declared that the N53m disbursed to his team by the Benin High Chief, was used to cater for the group’s members allowances, transportation and hotels accommodation on a tour that took them to 18 states in the north.
Yakasai, who vehemently denied link between the fund and campaigns for former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, listed former minister of state, foreign Affairs, Alhaji Mamman Anka, Barrister Bitrus Gwada and Alhaji Suleiman Lawal as beneficiaries of the money.
Other beneficiaries includes, Dr Bahago, Chief John Macklink from Plateau, and Senator Sodangi.
The turn-around by Mr. Yakasai that he received N53 million from Mr. Anenih contradicts his statement last week that he received any form of financial patronage from the Jonathan administration, which he and his group staunchly supported.
He had in the interview said “I want to make it categorically clear that no officials of the last regime either Mr. Jonathan, his lieutenant, agents, contractors or person having links or relationship with the last administration gave me cash on behalf of that regime for a reason”.
The nonagenarian disclosed that as part of the advocacy visit, they visited the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar; Emir of Kano, Malam Muhammadu Sanusi II; Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris and the Emir of Gwandu.
The list of other first class chief visited by Yakasai’s team also includes, The Emir of Anka, Emir of Ilorin, Emir of Nassarawa, Minnie, Bauchi, Zuru, Kebbi, Katsina, Dutse, Hadejia and representatives of Emir of Daurawa.
Other prominent rulers visited further includes, The Tor Tiv, the Gbong Gwom Jos, Ohimege Igu, Kotonkarfe, Etsu of Abaji, Etsu Nupe and Atta Igala.
Yakasai further revealed that his team were rescued from Gombe while on scheduled visit to the Emir when insurgents struck the city.
The elder statesman said “I want to make it abundantly clear that I didn’t received money from Chief Anenih in my private capacity as Tanko Yakasai but as patriotic individuals, who are interested in the peaceful coexistence of the polity”.