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EFCC probes alleged misappropriation of LG fund in Ebonyi

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By Ruth Oginyi

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has commenced investigations into the 6 billion Naira allegedly misappropriated in Ebonyi state local government allocation.

Group, had accused the government of diverting the Ebonyi local government funds of 6,756,800,000.00 (six billion, seven hundred and fifty-six million, eight hundred thousand).

The commission, however, said they had commenced investigation into the allegations.

This was contained in an acknowledgment letter dated February 11, 2021, signed by the Head Economic Governance Hq, Adebayo Adeniyi, addressed to the principal partner, Amos Ogbonnaya, and Co. Ebekuedike chambers, Abakaliki Ebonyi state.

This is in response to a petition it received from the group, G-64 Former Coordinators’ Forum of Ebonyi State, through Amos Ogbonnaya and Co. Ebekuedike chambers.

The copy of the letter obtained by our correspondent read in parts, “The commission receives your petition on the above subject dated 11th January 2021 and this is to inform you that investigation has commenced.

“Given the above, you are kindly requested to inform your clients to release a representative who is conversant with the matter to attend an interview with the undersigned through O/C team 5, Economic Governance section on 25th February 2021 at the EFCC headquarters, plot 301/302 institutions and research districts Jabi, Abuja.”

It would be recalled that the former coordinators who served with the State Governor, David Umahi, previously under the umbrella of G-64 Former Coordinators’ Forum of Ebonyi State, had petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over what they described as the alleged “misappropriation of statutory allocations of over N6,756,800,000.00 belonging to the 13 local government councils” by the state government.

They had in the petition dated January 11, 2021, and signed by their lawyers, Amos Ogbonnaya and Co., Umahi’s former aides alleged that they were short-changed by the Governor and called on the anti-graft agency to investigate the shoddy deals, which according to them, had yet to be accounted for.

The petitioners alleged that they were paid a paltry N101,000 monthly instead of the statutory N400,000 alleging that they were compelled to sign off N672m in 2017 from the local government councils’ account to the state government, ostensibly in exchange for three lock-up shops at the Margaret Umahi International Market, Abakaliki.

The petition read in part, “Our clients were, at various times between 2015 and 2019, appointed coordinators of the 64 development centers in Ebonyi state.

“While some were relieved of their appointments in 2017, others were relieved in 2019 and 2020.

“It is our clients’ further instructions that throughout the period they served as coordinators, the affairs of the local government councils, especially as they relate to statutory allocations and all outgoings therefrom, were shrouded in secrecy.

“For the period under review, the development centers were largely denied their monthly statutory allocations, and as a result, their statutory impresses and allowances appurtenant to their offices as coordinators under Section 11 of the Ebonyi State Local Government Councils and Development Centres Regulations and Remunerations for Public and Political Office Holders (Amendment Law), 2008 (made under section 15 of Ebonyi State Local Government Councils and Development Centres (amendment Law) No. 7 of 2007), were denied our clients.”

The petition added, “By the same law, each development center coordinator is entitled to a monthly imprest and allowance of N400,000.00 which includes security allowance, car maintenance allowance, office maintenance, imprest, etc.

“The governor of Ebonyi state, David Umahi, neglected or refused the release of allocations to the development centers from October 2015 to December 2020. As a result, our clients were denied their statutory impresses and allowances.

“Thus, for a period of about 63 months, from October 2015 to December 2020, our clients were largely denied their statutory remunerations with which to run their offices (including handling all security challenges in their development centers, office, and car maintenance) with the paltry monthly salary of N101,000.00, after-tax deductions.”

But in reaction, the Ebonyi state government said the former coordinators, were merely expressing anger because they didn’t make the list of the newly appointed coordinators in the state.

Mr. Uchenna Orji, commissioner for information and state orientation, in a text message to our correspondent on Saturday, noted that the said coordinators had resorted to destructive criticism.

Orji said, “Those allegations are nothing but the figments of the imagination of a group of people who made up their minds to be destructive for not making the list of serving coordinators of development centers.

“If they have offered their hearts to evil thoughts and plots, we wish them good luck”.

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