Hundreds of pro-democracy activists have protested at the National Assembly (NASS) to demand for the immediate removal of the minister of state for defence, Bello Muhammad Matawalle, over alleged pilfering of billions of naira belonging to the Zamfara State government.
The protesters under the aegis of the Civil Society Advocacy Groups for Accountability and Probity, accused the minister of romancing with bandits who are responsible for the loss of lives and property worth billions of naira in the northern part of the country.
During the protest, they called on the Senate president Godswill Akpabio to use his influence to ensure that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu relieves Matawalle of his job until he extricates himself of the charges levelled against him by the state government.
The activists, who were led by their leaders, Danesi Momoh, said Matawalle should no longer be trusted with the defence minister portfolio going by the ‘Pandora’s Box’ as published by the Zamfara State government which accused him of embezzling billions of naira through shady contract dealings, including the Gusau Cargo Airport.
In a petition addressed to the Senate President, the activists said, “For a Senate that has since inauguration, been preaching anti-corruption and socioeconomic hygiene, allowing a man like Bello Matawalle pass your screening without you doing anything to remedy it when the facts are out is a direct mockery of your avowed legislative objectives.
“Your Excellency would recall that many well-meaning Nigerians were vehemently opposed to Matawelle’s appointment as a minister of the Federal Republic following his performance as the governor of Zamfara State.
“A defence portfolio for a leader linked to bandits was perhaps one of the biggest mistakes of this administration, but it can be corrected with the Senate giving a voice in that direction.”
The group recalled Matawalle’s alleged hoarding of utility vehicles belonging to the state government shortly after exiting power to insist that he should leave public office.
It said his successor, Dauda Lawal had to fight to recover those vehicles and save the impoverished people of the state from further depletion of their meagre resources in purchase of new vehicles when they already had many, but which had disappeared.