30 January 2009

Nigeria: LG Funds - Senator Accuses Govs of Criminality

Katsina — The Senate Majority Whip, Senator Mahmoud Kanti Bello, has described as criminal, the situation where governors withhold local government funds and only release it to them at will.

Senator Kanti, who stated this in an interview with newsmen in Katsina, alleged that even his governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Shema, is guilty of the unconstitutionality and criminality of withholding local government funds.

He said: "This withholding of local government funds by the governors is unconstitutional, wrong and criminal. You will find even governors that are lawyers including our governor here doing that".

Kanti attributed the tampering of local government funds by the governors to weak legislators who could not control the governors that are powerful in their states.

"Because we have legislators that are weak and governors that are powerful, they keep the funds and will give the local councils N20 million this month and the next month, N5 million," he added.

Similarly, Kanti called for the establishment of a truly independent INEC to be headed by a credible Nigerian and the scrapping of the states electoral bodies.

According to him, "For example, if you establish an INEC that is truly independent and put General Gowon as the chairman of that body and you place that INEC under a judicial council that will give Nigerians some hope, I don't think any person in his right senses will go to Gowon to bribe him over election".

Commenting on the recent friction with the House of Representatives on constitution review, Kanti warned that the Senate will not compromise its position of rejecting the idea of co- chairmanship of the review committee.

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