Ex-governor held for graft

2009-12-10 12:15

Lagos - Nigerian authorities have arrested a former governor of the northern state of Sokoto on allegations of fraud and abuse of office, the EFCC anti-graft agency said on Thursday.

"Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa was picked up yesterday. He is accused of stealing and awarding contracts running into several billions of naira to his family members and cronies while in office," a senior EFCC official said.

Bafarawa was Sokoto state governor from 1999 to 2007 and is a prominent member of the opposition All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP).

Local media said the former governor was alleged to have stolen around five billion naira ($33.4m) from the state treasury through awards of contracts.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said around a dozen former governors who served under ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo have been arrested in the past few years over corruption allegations.

While in office, the governors of the 36 states in Nigeria, who have control over millions of dollars of public funds, enjoy immunity from prosecution.

Nigeria is ranked among some of the most corrupt nations in the world and graft has been identified as a major disincentive to investments in Africa's most populous nation of 140 million people.