Calabar — The Cross River State Government has described as fake news the purported investigation of the state, along with three others, for allegedly paying money to a consultancy firm from its Paris & London Club Refunds by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
A statement issued in Calabar by the state Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Asuquo Ekpenyong Jr, said: "The report is not only puerile but also a figment of the imagination of the authors of the story."
Ekpenyong stated unequivocally that "the state did not and has not paid a dime to anybody in the name of consultancy from the Paris Club Refund."
While deploring what he termed as an emerging trend of mischief aimed at bringing the state into disrepute and causing public disaffection, the commissioner, however, urged Cross Riverians and indeed, Nigerians as a whole to ignore the fictive report.
According to the commissioner, "It is rather sad and regrettable that the same media that not long a ago lavishly published a report about alleged freezing of the account of the state for refusing to pay for the services of a consultant from the said fund is the one now reporting that the state, along with three others is being investigated by the (EFCC) for purportedly paying money to a consultant from the said fund. What can be more contradictory than this?"
Clearing the air on the mischievous insinuation, Ekpenyong offered: "For the avoidance of doubt, Cross River State government is not aware of it being under any investigation by the EFCC on account of the Paris Club Refund as claimed in the media," adding that "all payments made from the account are traceable."
Continuing, he said: "It is on record that disbursements so far made from the Paris Club refund have been for the payment of pensions, gratuities and salaries. We wish to reiterate, for the avoidance of doubt that not a kobo from the fund has been paid to anybody for whatever consultancy services.
"This administration has continued to observe the tenets of probity by adhering strictly to the fiscal regulations as enthroned in the three legislations governing operations of public accounting in Cross River State, namely, Fiscal Responsibility Law; Public Finance Management Law; and the Public Procurement Law.
"I must state without any fear of contradiction that the state is growing tired of the new found preoccupation of idlers and peddlers of mischief who are hell bent on not only distracting the focus of this administration on delivering on its electoral mandate, but also stoke tension in the polity. It is time the media availed itself of the Freedom of Information law by seeking information from appropriate quarters on issues of public concern."