By Victor Uwagor
Officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, have stepped into the allegations of fraudulent government transactions and alleged looting of council funds, following the petition of a former Supervisory Councillor in Akoko-Edo Local Government Council, Hon. Samuel Oyewole, against incumbent Council Boss, Hon. Folorunsho Akerejola.
The fraud-bursting officials of the Commission were responding to a petition by counsels to the petitioner, Ray I.D. Okezie & Co., dated 30th September, 2013, a copy of which was made available to The Navigator, in which the council boss was alleged to have, among other things, misappropriated the total sum of N726million being total summary of statutory revenue to the Akoko-Edo Local Government Council, for the months of May – August, 2013.
The petitioner, while crying blue murder over a majority of the items of expenditure undertaken by the council administration, further alleged that “the roads claimed to have been graded and filled in Agbanishimu, Akpama, Omumu, Ogugu Ayauza, and Ibillo, an 18km stretch for N16million, are non-existent and no grading of roads or filling of same has taken place in the communities mentioned.”
The petitioner averred that their client, Hon. Samuel Oyewole had evidence of facts to prove the council chairman’s claims wrong that the council built a 3-classroom block and a headmaster’s office at Okuma Primary School, Ogugu, for N9.6million and the construction of 2 units of open market at Ososo, without toilets or any other facility, could not have been built with N5million.
Other items of alleged fraudulent questioning listed in the petition, include the council chairman’s claims of spending N6million to clear refuse dump at Ibillo Ekpesa Community and accumulated cow dung at Ibillo and Igarra abattoir; organizing football competition for male and female for N4million; purchase of two metal doors at the council for N121,500; procuring of 110 units of DEKA Bench for various Primary schools in the locality for N1.9; A maternal labour and child health week, which petitioner argued never took place, for N2.8million; provision of logistics to organize a cultural festival, which petitioner claimed was never held, for N4.5million.
All these claims, apart from being frivolous, according to the petitioner, were never retired, several weeks after 31st August, 2013 as required by the Civil Service Rules of Edo State.
The petitioner, Hon. Samuel Oyewole, who spoke with newsmen, shortly after the inspection of projects by the officials of the EFCC, maintained that he was moved by the grandiose magnitude of the alleged fraudulent acts to write the petition, insisting that his action was not out of malice, but a social responsibility to curtail corruption and sound as a wake up call on public office holders to invest government allotted funds for the development and wellbeing of the people.
He, however, lamented the uncomplimentary role played by the Edo State House of Assembly, in promptly investigating the issues raised, even after he submitted the petition to the House in September, 2013. Hon. Oyewole, described as “empty boast” the alleged claims of the council chairman that he was unperturbed by the EFCC’s investigation as, according to him, the state government would stand by him. The petitioner noted that the Comrade Governor was a prudent and development-driven governor who has zero-tolerance for misappropriate of public funds.
He, therefore, enjoined the Edo State House of Assembly to work in tandem with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to investigate and establish the truth in the petition.