Ebonyi Governor Dave Umahi has been dragged before another anti-graft agency, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over alleged fresh financial malfeasance.
Those behind a petition received by the ICPC in Abuja on March 2 are the set of his former aides under the aegis of G64 Former Coordinators’ Forum.
The petitioners are asking the anti-corruption body to investigate the alleged non-remittance of one percent statutory monthly deductions from Local Government Areas allocations since May 2015 till date to the state Civil Service Commission.
According to the former aides, the one percent deductions running into hundreds of millions are statutorily meant for the training of council workers.
The petition was dated March 1 and signed by their lawyer, Chief Amos Ogbonnaya of Amos Ogbonnaya and Co Legal Practitioners.
It also contains the major areas the former coordinators had listed in their January 2021 petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission as the conduits through which Umahi and some of his cronies had allegedly siphoned N6.76 billion belonging to the councils.
The areas are agric loans, purchase of Sports Utility Vehicles, Ebonyi First Lady’s to LGAs, concrete road projects, land, shops, non-remittance 10 percent of the state’s Internally Generated Revenue to the LGAs and near-total deprivation of their monthly imprest while in office as coordinators.
On the non-remittance of the training fund, the petitioner wrote: “Another major fraud committed by Ebonyi State Government against the people of the state is the issue of the statutory one per cent Local Government Training Fund deductible from the monthly local government allocations of the 13 Local Government Councils of Ebonyi State.
“Section 5.7.2 (i) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Handbook on Local Government Administration, 1999, clearly provides that one of the functions of the Local Government Service Commission shall be, ‘to keep the 1% Local Government Training Fund for the training of members of the Unified (Local Government) staff.’
“The Ebonyi State Local Government Law No. 003 of 1999 (Law to make Provisions for the Establishment, Structure, Position, Finance and Functions of Local Government Councils in Ebonyi State) makes similar provision.”
The former coordinators claimed that their investigation revealed the one percent fund is deducted monthly and kept in a secret account without remittance to the state civil service commission.
They prayed the ICPC to, among others, carry out “discreet and thorough investigation of the misappropriation, embezzlement, or mismanagement of all statutory allocations of the 13 Local Government Councils of Ebonyi State for the period of June 2015 to December 2020.”
The former aides also asked the commission to arrest and prosecute “all those found to have misappropriated in part or in whole, the accrued Local Government allocations within the period under review.”
In the case of the governor, they said his arrest and prosecution be in June when his second tenure in office would have expired.
But reacting Commissioner for Information, Uchenna Orji, said the petition is a complete fabrication.
He said: “The allegations are absolutely irresponsible, without foundation and mischievously intended to soil the reputation of the divine mandate administration of Governor David Umahi”.
“The motive of the petitioners is to blackmail Ebonyi State government for the singular reason of not being reappointed as coordinators.
“Ebonyi State government has national acclaim and recognition by integrity organisations such as EFCC as a very transparent, prudent, and people-oriented government whose sense of probity and accountability is not questionable.
“Ebonyi State government does post its financial transactions monthly in the state government’s websites.
“We, therefore, invite them to know the principle of law that says that he who asserts must prove but if they have decided out of self-inflicted frustration to be dirty, we wish them good luck.
“It must be noted that they are being pushed by enemies of this administration. Unfortunately, they have met a crossroad because they are turning back to pay evil for good done to them by a man whom God has raised to bring economic salvation to Ebonyi.” (The Nation)