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Ex-Gov. Shema, Wanted by EFCC, in Talks for ‘Soft Landing’

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Legal representatives of Ibrahim Shema, the immediate past governor of Katsina State, who was declared wanted on Wednesday for alleged fraud, are negotiating with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, his spokesman said Thursday.

A spokesperson said there were talks to “cool everything down”, and to allow Mr. Shema respond to the commission’s invitation on a later date.

Mr. Shema was declared wanted on Thursday night on allegations that he committed offenses such as “criminal conspiracy, inflation of contract, abuse of office, diversion of funds and embezzlement running into billions of naira”.

The EFCC said the former governor, a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, was declared wanted after efforts to get him to respond to the allegations, or invitations by the EFCC, failed.

Mr. Shema’s spokesman, Oluwabusola Olawale, told sources that the former governor’s lawyers were holding talks that could allow the governor a soft landing.

“His lawyers are negotiating with EFCC officials to cool everything down and allow him come on a new date,” Mr. Olawale said. “We’re hoping there’ll be a breakthrough between today and tomorrow.”

Sources in the anti-graft office had told sources Wednesday that Mr. Shema was sought for allegedly mismanaging about N68 billion of state funds while he was governor between 2007 and 2015.

In 2012 alone, sources said Mr. Shema allegedly diverted about N18 billion from government coffers into his private accounts for undisclosed reasons.

The officials said Mr. Shema further raided local governments monthly allocation accounts which were being jointly run with the state government, leaving little for developmental projects and clearance of local government employees’ wages and salaries. A sum of N50 billion is believed to have been mismanaged this way.

Mr. Shema has denied the allegations.

He accuses his successor, Bello Masari, of setting the EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies against him.

Mr. Masari, however, denied the allegations, saying he won’t exchange words with Mr. Shema because some of the corruption charges were already in court.

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