24 July 2008

Nigeria: EFCC Quizzes Kogi SSG, Speaker Over N12 Billion Scam

Abuja/Lokoja — Six top officials of the Kogi State government were yesterday in Abuja, drilled for many hours by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over their role in the alleged misappropriation of N12 billion belonging to the state.

Daily Champion, learnt that those asked to clarify their roles in the alleged fraud are the Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly, Clarence Olafemi, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Musa Ibrahim and Head of Service in the state, Isa Idachaba.

The Accountant General of the state, Okpanachi Ubolo, and the Commissioner for Works, Abdulkarim Abubakar, and his Finance counterpart, Abiodun Ojo were also quizzed by the commission.

Confirming the development, spokesman for the EFCC, Femi Babafemi, stated that the six officials were summoned to appear before the commission to explain their role in the alleged looting of N12 billion from the state's coffers, adding that they were drilled for several hours by operatives of the commission .

He said that the officials responded to the invitation by the EFCC on invitation, saying they arrived early on Wednesday morning to honour the invitation.

A source in the Commission told newsmen that the six Kogi State officials were questioned on their role in the alleged misappropriation of the money leveled against the Ibrahim Idris Administration.

According to the source, they were drilled up till about 4pm Wednesday, adding that those found not wanting in the investigation will be let off the hook while the commission may need to detain those found wanting.

The EFCC investigation on activities of the Kogi State government is said to have been engineered by the petition sent Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) alleging sundry corruption practices.

The petition accused the Idris administration of tampering with local government funds, inflating contracts as well as outright looting of public funds totaling N12 billion.

It would be recalled that the speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly, Clarence Olafemi, had acted governor of the state for about three months following the nullification of Governor Ibrahim Idris victory at the April 14, 2007 governorship election. The governor had, however, won the rerun election which held in March, 2008.

As at the time of going to press, the officials were still being kept though there are promises that they will be allowed to go home after giving satisfactory information to the Commission while those that have more questions to answer will be held but within legal stipulation.

Meanwhile, Daily Champion gathered that the interrogation was sequel to a petition sent to the EFCC by Kogi State Chapter of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) in August 2007.

CNPP had alleged that contracts for the construction of Lokoja International Market, Lokoja General Hospital and some township roads were inflated by the state government.

Contacted on the development yesterday, Special Adviser to the state governor on Media, Mr. Phrank Shuaibu said the six public office holders were set free after clarifying issues contained in the petition.

In a telephone interview with Daily Champion he said "A petition must have been sent by our detractors who are bent on getting to power at all cost and it is not surprising that the EFCC invited our officials to give clarification to that because the law empowers them to do that.

"Interestingly Governor Ibrahm Idris of Kogi State has nothing to hide and as such has asked our officials to submit themselves effortlessly to any organization empowered by law to investigate financial crimes.

"Governor Idris is a stickler of financial discipline and will always remain so."

"For our detractors however, their submission will always be taken for what it is-a random jottings from confused and desperate souls."

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