Festus Akanbi in Lagos, Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha and Kingsley Nweze in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has stated that the fugitive, Gimba Yau Kumo, declared wanted by the Independent Corrupt Practics Commission (ICPC) over an alleged $65 million fraud is no longer his son-in-law.
The ICPC yesterday began a manhunt for Kumo over alleged fraud, committed with two others, while he was the Managing Director, Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN).
A statement issued yesterday by the President’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, said the latest move by the ICPC to declare Kumo wanted, notwithstanding his connections, has shown the seriousness of the Buhari administration to fight corrupt practices in the country.
The release stated, inter alia: “A running story to the effect that the ICPC has declared ‘an in-law of the President’ wanted in connection with fraud involving the large sum of money, USD65 million to be exact. This should normally be an affirmation that our anti-corruption agencies/institutions are truly independent and allowed unfettered freedom by the President; which is in fact the case. That a state institution can issue such is a measure of the administration’s commitment to accountability, equality and justice.
“To set the records straight, the person declared wanted by the ICPC is not an in-law to President Buhari. While at some point in time, the said fugitive from justice had been linked to a family member in marriage; that relationship has ended some years ago.
“It is therefore unfortunate to bring the Presidents family into this case. It is in our view an attempt to generate views and sell copies of sensational reporting.
“The President’s position at all times is that the law be allowed to take its course. As is well known of him, President Muhammadu Buhari will not provide any cover for crime, no matter who is involved.”
The ICPC yesterday began a manhunt for Kumo over the alleged fraud.
Kumo, a former Managing Director, FMBN, got married to Buhari’s daughter in October 2016 in Daura, Katsina State.
According to the commission, Kumo is wanted alongside Tarry Rufus and Bola Ogunsola over alleged misappropriation and dispersion of national housing fund.
The notice, published on the commission’s website was signed by the ICPC spokesperson, Mrs Azuka Ogugua.
It reads, “The persons whose pictures appear above, Mr Tarry Rufus, Mr Gimba Yau Kumo and Mr Bola Ogunsola, are hereby declared wanted by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission in connection with issues bordering on misappropriation of National Housing Funds and diversion of the sum of $65m.
“Anyone who has useful information on their whereabouts should report to ICPC Headquarters, Abuja, any of the ICPC state offices or the nearest police station.”
Kumo’s tenure at FMBN was characterised by allegations of corruption.
It was alleged that the fleeing former boss of FMBN and three others paid themselves outrageous severance packages at the end of their tenure in October 2014.
Last month, the senate committee on public accounts summoned Kumo to explain the alleged irregular award of N3 billion contract when he was still at the bank.
In a related development, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said that the latest revelation of $65 million fraud in the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), in which President Buhari’s former son in-law, Kumo, is allegedly involved, “further confirms that the Buhari Presidency is indeed a sanctuary for fraudsters, treasury looters and common criminals.”
The party charged the ICPC not to succumb to reported pressure from the cabal in the Buhari Presidency but to track down Kumo, and bring him to book alongside his accomplices.
The PDP in a statement yesterday by National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan said it speaks volumes that the Buhari Presidency had remained silent in the face of this huge fraud.
The PDP said it holds it as wicked, afflicting and provocative “that while millions of hardworking Nigerians cannot afford their daily meals and other basic necessities of life due to the misrule and corruption of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its administration, they are daily assailed by revelations of unbridled treasury looting under President Buhari’s watch.”
The PDP adds, “Is it not provocative that at the time the Buhari administration is moving to cut workers’ salaries; increase the cost of fuel, electricity and other tariffs; in a country with over 33 per cent unemployment and where citizens have been subjected to the worst forms of poverty; government officials, cronies and relations of those in power are busy looting our agencies and carting away our common patrimony?
“It is even more distressing that the looted FMBN money is part of funds contributed by Nigerians to meet their home needs which has instead fallen under the predatory proclivities of the APC administration.
“While the Buhari Presidency parades a holier than thou attitude, the nation’s vaults have been laid open for the ruthless pillaging by family members, relations, cronies in the Buhari Presidency.”
The PDP urged the Buhari Presidency to allow for an open investigation of Mr. President’s son-in-law.