How ex-Zamfara Governor, Yari, blew $18.2m overseas on luxury in 4 months – Documents

A syndicate of international financial crimes investigators has obtained bank documents showing curious debits and credits on the bank accounts of former governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari while he was governor in 2016.

Yari , a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who is currently a Senator representing Zamfara West Senatorial district was governor of the minerals-rich but impoverished state between 2011 and 2019.

Documents obtained by the investigators and seen by our team of investigative reporters include bank details from his First Bank account number 2030979516 domiciled at No.2 Owene Close, Maitama, Abuja. A careful scrutiny of the bank details showed a curious frequency of debits in US dollars.

The spotlight on the bank transactions was on 2016 and 2017 when Yari was governor of Zamfara state.

The bank papers showed a bizarre pattern of payments, showing a man on a spending spree overseas.

For instance, while he was a serving governor of Zamfara in 2016, Yari practically shut down Harrods, an exclusive shopping mall in highbrow London where the rich and wealthy flaunt the depth of their pockets.

On October 24, 2016, Yari while as sitting governor made out eight different payments at Harrods all debited from his Frist Bank account in the sums of $124,918.85; $387,947.80; $533,994; $606,199.30; $1,046,384.85; $894,607.70; $150,727.95; and $267,683.25 all totaling $4,011,459 (Four million, eleven thousand, four hundred and fifty-nine US dollars). That is the amount Yari splurged at Harrods in one day of shopping orgy.

In the same year, Yari on October 20, paid out the sum of $62,016.63 twice in New Jersey and Washington, United States for undisclosed transactions.

On October 18, same year, Yari’s account at First Bank, Maitama, was debited the sum of a chunky $3,050,000.00 (Three million and fifty thousand dollars) for something captured as purchases in Montblanc Maclean, an exotic luxury store in Virginia, US. Besides expensive wrist watches, Montblanc is home to high profile gift items including pens, perfumes, etc. The bank documents did not break down items purchased by Nigeria’s shopper-in-chief.

The following day, October 19, the sum of $198,087.50 was spend for some services/products in Fogo de Chao, Washington.

Yari’s propensity to squander what the investigators flagged as public money laundered into his personal account was not limited to London and the United States.

In one day, on December 13, 2016, Yari paid out the sums $441, 121.50 and $30,195.00 to Nahdi Medical Company in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. Investigators are at a fix to tell whether the huge sums were for his personal medical bill or for all the sick people in his state. However, the fact that he was paying from his personal account suggests that the huge funds were for his personal care and attention and those of his close family members.

The spending pattern showed that Yari lived larger than life while presiding over poor Zamfara, a state with poor infrastructure, cracked up by insecurity.

Still on Yari’s Arabian adventure: On September 14, 2016, Yari’s First Bank account was debited the sum of $1,989,071.15 and credited to Intercontinental Hotel, Madinah, a bill that looked like a community bill in a classy hotel.

Earlier on September 26, 2016, Yari’s lust for luxury was satiated with a handsome bill of $4,679,388.32 from the same First Bank account in favour of Park Hyatt, a five-star hotel in Dubai. On the same day, Yari was still shopping in the United States probably from the comfort of his hotel room in Dubai as his account got a debit hit of $3,083,700 in favour of Louis Vuitton, New York.

Altogether, in a space of four months, between September and December, 2016, Yari spent a princely $18,204,609 on shopping, hotel accommodation, medicals and luxury.

The investigators said they are working on other years to show how a sitting governor in one of Nigeria’s poorest and most disadvantaged states spend what the investigators suspected to be public funds in choice hotels and shopping malls overseas.

But while he was living large overseas, Zamfara state was swamped in poverty, tagged among states with the lowest internally Generated Revenue (IGR), growing debt overhang and low GDP. He left the state in debt and poverty.

Zamfara recorded debt increase of 109.55 per cent within the period of his shopping orgy.

As of December 31, 2015, Zamfara State’s debt stock had risen from N46.28bn to N96.98.

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