A former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari is leading a team of aggrieved Northern leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress to secretly work for the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar, SaharaReporters has gathered.
According to multiple sources, Yari recently met with Atiku in Paris, France while on his way to the US.
He and others were said to have threatened to sabotage the presidential campaign of their party and its candidate, Bola Tinubu in the Northern region.
Multiple sources in the campaign council of the presidential candidate of the APC said intelligence reports at their disposal revealed that Yari is secretly working for the opposition party.
He was quoted as accusing the national leaders of the party and Tinubu of disregarding his nominations to the presidential campaign council.
Yari, who was one of the founding members of the APC from the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) bloc has been relegated to the background by the party leadership and President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration since Governor Bello Matawalle dumped the PDP for the APC.
“With everything he did for Buhari and the APC in Zamfara, he said he and his numerous supporters were abandoned. Rather than rewarding him for the investment he made for the APC, he has been running a battle with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),” one of the sources said.
In May, he was arrested by the EFCC over alleged illegal financial dealings and misappropriation of funds.
SaharaReporters gathered that Yari was arrested over his alleged role in the judgment debts around the Paris Club refunds as claimed by some private firms.
His handling of the proceeds of the Paris Club refunds from 2017, when he was the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, to May 2019 when his two terms as governor ended, is being investigated.
A court document was filed by the EFCC in 2017 which reveals the suspicious nature of payments made by the Yari-led NGF to consultants and firms who were said to have helped the forum to recover funds with the London and Paris clubs loan between 1995 and 2002.
In the document, the EFCC stated that it received intelligence in January 2017 alleging “conspiracy, criminal misappropriation of public funds involving the sum of N19,439,225,871.11 out of the Paris Club refunds made by the Federal Government in favour of the 36 states of the federation.”
The commission had in the court filing, sought an order of forfeiture of N500 million and $500,000 allegedly recovered from Yari.
Also in February 2021, Yari was arrested and grilled by EFCC operatives in Lagos, while the Federal High Court in Abuja on January 26, 2021, ordered the final forfeiture of funds belonging to Yari, domiciled in Zenith and Polaris banks.
The judgment followed investigations that Yari had suspicious monies stuffed in his bank accounts including the sum of $56,056.75 reportedly lodged in his account with Polaris Bank; N12.9 million, N11.2 million, $303 million, N217,388.04, and $311.8 million said to be kept in different Zenith Bank accounts in the name of the ex-governor and his companies.
Another reason reportedly given by Yari for hobnobbing with Atiku and other chieftains of the PDP was the refusal of Tinubu to give him a key role in his campaign team.
“We are monitoring those who are plotting against Asiwaju (Tinubu). They are APC members during the day but at night, they are with Atiku. Yari met Atiku in Paris recently while on his way to the US,” a member of the APC Presidential Campaign Council told SaharaReporters.
He said after the meeting abroad, the former governor met several times with the former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who is a special adviser to Atiku’s campaign council.
“Twice, he has also met with the vice-presidential candidate of the PDP, Ifeanyi Okowa and other governors who are with Atiku in the PDP. He has also met with the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike,” he said.
On July 19, Yari was with Wike in Rivers State, where he extensively discussed issues revolving around the 2023 presidency.
Another source in the APC said they are monitoring three governors and two former governors in the Northwest geopolitical zone who are hobnobbing with Atiku.
“Yari is at the forefront of Atiku’s project in the Northwest. He is together with three serving and two former governors. We know he is one of the fifth columnists and that was why he was not considered for any major assignment in the campaign council,” the source, a senior member of the APC presidential campaign said.
He said the recent visit of Tinubu to Yari in Abuja was arranged by a former governor who was also involved in the Atiku project.
“They organised the meeting to cover up their machinations against Asiwaju. But we are fully aware of their antics and machinations. They won’t go anywhere,” he added.
According to him, the former Lagos State governor named Bello Matawalle, the Zamfara State governor as his Northwest zonal coordinator following the report.
“Asiwaju also allowed Matawalle to name the Zamfara State Coordinator of his campaign council,” the source said.
It was further gathered that one of Atiku’s daughters, Maryam and one of the aides of Matawalle, Asalam A. Aliyu have been reaching out to stakeholders in Zamfara State with Yari giving them “fatherly support” to promote Atiku’s candidature.
This comes a few days after the Northern Elders Consultative Forum, including Christian leaders in the APC in the North, formally adopted Atiku for the 2023 presidential election.
According to them, the PDP candidate was adopted following the resolution of the Northern Christian leaders to work with their Muslim counterparts to adopt one of the presidential candidates in a bid to defeat the same-faith presidential ticket of the APC.
Efforts made by SaharaReporters to reach Yari on the phone were not successful.