Osagie Otabor, Benin
The Benin Zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has quizzed some officials of the Esan North East local government council for allegedly conniving with the council chairman, Mr. Augustine Okoibhole to defraud the council.
Sources said the council officials were granted administrative bail.
The council officials affected were those in the cash office, Exco recording department, procurement office, health department, revenue, and works departments.
They were invited based on a petition against the council boss who was accused of corrupt practices.
Nine councillors from wards 1,2,3,6,7,8,9,20 and 11 had recently petitioned Governor Godwin Obaseki wherein they accuse the chairman of financial recklessness as well as operating multiple council accounts.
Among allegations raised by the councillors were that the chairman has not been able to account for N13,348,000 remitted to one of the account by the revenue verification committee.
They alleged that the sum of N144,000,000 realised as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for the past 16 months and the N116,350,894 Paris Club refund have not been accounted for.
He said, “The new NFIU (Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit) directive gives us room to operate three accounts and that is what we are doing, we are operating three accounts.
“We have been paying salaries, we are not owing workers salaries. I have done many projects. I have build a livestock market, I have done drainages and all these monies did not come from my personal pocket. What we have done is even far more than N144 million naira. My wage bill on monthly base is over N30m and for the last 25 months, I have paid salaries. I have debts that we are owing on rented properties and several other spendings.”
On Paris Club refund he said acted as directed by the state governor to pay salary arrears “we were owing eight months and now we are owing only two and half months which means I have paid five and a half months.”
Spokesman for the EFCC, Benin office, Mr. Wilson Oseghale said, “We invite people from everywhere all the time for interrogation and we always make public anybody who is with us. We invite people from all sectors all the time”.