25 January 2009

Nigeria: Corruption in Taraba - Group Wants Gov Suntai Investigated

Abuja — Concerned indigenes of Taraba State have cried out to President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua and other appropriate government agencies in the country to, as a matter of urgency, halt alleged unprecedented fraudulent financial practices going on in the administration of Governor Danbaba Suntai in the interest of the citizens of the rural state.

Already, the group alleged, in less than two years that Governor Suntai came into office, "about N8billion has been misused, misapplied and diverted by the governor and some of his corrupt officials with nothing concrete on ground."

In a four-page petition addressed to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and its sister agency, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), and copied the presidency, the group is accusing Governor Suntai of lack of focus and patriotism.

In the petition jointly signed by Alhaji Abubakar Isa Jalingo and Patrict John Pantisawa, a copy of which was made available to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY in Abuja, the group claimed that if nothing is done to call the governor to order, his administration should be prepared to contain a revolt by the masses of the state.

Chronicling allegations of financial recklessness of the Suntai administration, the Taraba indigenes alleged that "because of his phobia for skilled indigenous manpower, Governor Suntai on assumption recruited 21 quack Egyptian doctors where his administration wasted over N1billion on them only to later discover that they were not qualified medical doctors".

The petition further reads in part: "Next, Governor Suntai awarded a contract for the purchase of exotic cars at the cost of about seven billion naira, making it look as if the problem of the people is cars.

"And because of his lack of love for his people, particularly those in the hinterland, he awarded contracts for the construction of roads to incompetent contractors but at inflated cost, e.g., the Mararaba-Baissa-Abong road in Kurmi local government at about N3billion, and the Kunini-Lau-Karim Lamido road also at more N2billion.

"As if the governor came with a mission to mortgage the entire state and its people, his administration embarked on collecting loans running in billions from some new generation banks. Already, we are told, more than N11billion have been sourced from these loans which only Suntai and his officials would tell.

"And as if he is not tired, the governor again went and recruited engineers from Malaysia to help him construct township roads in Jalingo, the state capital, only to later also discover the so-called engineers are artisans and technicians, a fact attested to by his secretary to the state government.

"Furthermore, as if he hates the people of the state who voted for him, Governor Suntai since assumption of office has made policies that have further brought untold hardship on them. How can anyone in his right senses ban the use of motorcycles (okada) as a means of transportation in a state capital like Jalingo which has only one motorable street?"

The petitioners added: "Mr. President, Sir, there are many other instances of financial recklessness of the Suntai administration that space will not allow us to include here. But we sincerely plead that you cause the EFCC and ICPC to commence immediately the financial operations of the less than two years old regime in the interest of the people of Taraba State."

Further findings by LEADERSHIP SUNDAY also revealed that well-meaning indigenes of the state, both resident within and outside, have complained of the style of leadership of Suntai which has isolated almost everyone.

LEADERSHIP SUNDAY also found out that, apart from being the most travelled governor in the North-East geopolitical zone, Governor Suntai is at war with virtually all the stakeholders and elders of the state.

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