Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Abuja

FIVE years after he was declared wanted in connection with alleged diversion of N5.5 billion during the administration of former Katsina State Governor Ibrahim Shema, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has taken into custody Mr. Idris Kwado.

Shema is under probe in connection with the cash meant for the implementation of the Subsidy Re-Investment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) in the state.

Out of the N5.5 billion SURE-P funds, over N1.3 billion was traced to Kwado, identified as Shema’s associate.

Although Kwado relocated to the Republic of Niger since 2015, luck ran against him on May 25 when he sneaked into Katsina.

A source within the anti-graft agency said: “As soon as the EFCC commenced investigation into the activities of SURE-P Dept and were looking for Idris Kwado, he relocated to the Republic of Niger Republic where he now lives and operates his numerous businesses both in Niger and Nigeria.

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“He occasionally sneaks into Katsina State,  and returns to Niger without being noticed until he was arrested on May 25 in Katsina by agents of the  state government who promptly notified the commission of his arrest and detention at the state Criminal Investigation Department (SCID).

“The EFFC team from Abuja took over the suspect on May 28, 2020 for continuation of investigation.

“Former Governor Shehu Shema was charged before the Federal High Court, Katsina in 2018 on a 26 – count charge of money laundering involving the sum of N5, 502, 321, 990. 40.

“In some of the charges, one Kwado was mentioned but he was said to be at large. Alhaji Idris Kwado assisted the former governor in laundering of about N1, 369,951, 000 withdrawn from the Department of Sure-P of the Katsina State government.”

When contacted, a top official of the commission confirmed the development.

He added: “The suspect is wanted for alleged laundering of over N1.5b SURE-P cash.  Investigation is ongoing on the matter. The suspect is in our custody.”

The EFCC had seized three mansions linked to Shema pending the conclusion of the ongoing probe of alleged N74.6 billion fraud against the former.

The affected houses in Katsina were placed under Interim Assets Forfeiture in line with Sections 28 and 34 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004.

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