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UPDATE: Niger State Governor lays claim to seized N6bn

Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, has claimed that the N6bn that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) traced to a former commissioner in the state was stolen from Niger State Government account.

Bello made the claim in an interview with journalists shortly after joining President Muhammadu Buhari for the Juma’at prayer at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The governor claimed that the funds were siphoned through inflated Hajj subsidies offered by the state government to pilgrims within the periods the former commissioner served as the Chairman of the Niger State Pilgrims’ Agency.

The governor, who commended the EFCC for its efforts in recovering stolen funds, expressed the hope that the recovered N6bn would be transferred to the state’s accounts to enable his administration embark on developmental projects.

He also acknowledged the effort of the EFCC towards the recovery of misappropriated ecological funds by the previous administration in the state.

The governor said, “I’m aware that the EFCC is investigating the ecological funds. At the inception of this administration, we realised that the ecological funds disappeared.

“I did not have any evidence that it was utilised to address any ecological issues and we are faced with major ecological problems especially in Mokwa, Agaie, Bida, part of Minna, Rafin Gora and Mariga.

“We are doing our best to address the ecological problems. We need funds and unfortunately the N2bn that was given to the state was not judiciously used to address the ecological challenges.

“If it had been used properly, maybe our burden might have been reduced by now, but we are having sleepless nights over ecological issues and we are still approaching the FG to assist us.”