An Abuja-based civil society organisation, Egalitarian Mission for Africa (EMA), has accused the Kogi State government of monumental fraud and called on the relevant anti-corruption agencies, especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to immediately commence investigations into the allegations.
This group’s accusation was contained in a statement signed by its Publicity Secretary, Sadiq Jobi. According to Jobi, the depletion of bailout funds and other statutory funds by the Governor Yahaya Bello administration, especially over the last two weeks, is gargantuan. Jobi explained that the state government received N30billion as bailout.
Broken down, he said, the government got N10 billion for infrastructure and N20 billion salaries. “The N10billion out of the N20 billion for salaries is domiciled with Zenith Bank, while the remaining N10billion for local government Salaries is domiciled with Access Bank
“It is instructive to note that on the 27th of July 2016, the sum of N912,648,960.49 million was paid from the Infrastructure account (Number 1010756707 at Zenith Bank) to AG Vision Construction Nigeria Limited’s account no 1920001651 at Skye Bank as part payment purportedly made for the construction of Agasa – Ukpogoro Road, a fictitious non – existing project as at today,” the group alleged.
EMA said it suspects that the huge movement of money is for Bello’s use to fight legal disputations to his electoral victory at the appellate tribunal, where he is being challenged by no fewer than four appellants.
“We also note that towards the end of the case at the lower tribunal, the state governor approved the movement from the infrastructure account the sum of N1.7billion purportedly for a contract to Lebanese Company, MAJ Global Construction Company Ltd, owned by one Michel Abboud.
“The contract was purportedly for the renovation of 17 units of houses within Government House.
“Now the question is: Why did the government award such contracts without advertising them? Even if the contracts were advertised, how could a single company win all the bids in such a competitive environment as we have in Nigeria today? Looking at the contract details and the figures as stated below, how much does it even cost to construct a new building that a poor state like Kogi would be renovating buildings at these staggering sums?” EMA asked.
Figures of the contract, presented by the group, suggest that the government spent N5million on preliminaries, N 56.8million on the residence of the Governor’s Personal Assistant, N55.3million on the residence of the Permanent Secretary (Government House), N85.5million on the Principal Private Secretary’s residence, N64million on the Government House Guest House and N64.6million on the Accountant-General’s residence. The renovation of the residence of the Director-General (Protocol) was awarded at the cost of N 53.3million, while that of the Chief Security Officer took N 52.9million. Other figures showed that the government awarded contracts for the CP’s residence at N 50.5miliion, Secretary to the State Government’s residence at N 52.3million, Imam’s residence at N 47.5million, six units of office buildings at N 857million and other residential buildings at N 669.6 million. The sub-total, said the group, amounted to N1.526billion which, when consultancy fees of N40million is added, amounted to a grand total of N1.566bilion.
Despite the huge outlays, EMA said it found out that no renovation is taking place in most of the buildings. EMA added that most of the payments to contractors are made in cash at the Government House.
The group also stated that its investigations revealed that the salaries account No 1014673585 (Zenith Bank), which had N20 billion in bailout funds currently has less than N1 billion, with civil servants and pensioners owed seven months’ salaries. It similarly claimed that no Infrastructural projects are being executed despite the government getting close to N20billion in Federal Allocations since January 2016.
In January, the state got N2,580,000,000, N 2,690,764,451.52 in February, N 3,516, 357,267.2 in March, N 2,291,476,388.06 in April, N 3,843,118,140.02 in May and N 3,490,878,662.89 in June, making a total of N 18,412,594,909.69 excluding July allocation.
“This is exclusive of the allocation to the 21 LGAs, yet Kogi State Government is not paying salaries; no single drainage being done; students have been home; no subvention to tertiary institutions,” alleged EMA.
The group also accused the governor of deducting N20million monthly from council allocations. The monies are said to be passed on to the governor’s Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja. Of this sum, group stated, N10million is used for the repayment of vehicles bought for political appointees, while the remaining N10 million is shared by the Chief of Staff, Auditor-General and Accountant-General respectively on monthly basis, according to our investigations.
The Chief of Staff, EMA further, alleged, knows when councils’ accounts are credited monthly, as he receives alerts of LGA accounts on his phone in order ensure strict compliance with the N20 million monthly deduction.