By Dayo Johnson
CONTROVERSY over alleged operation of secret accounts by the immediate past administration in Ondo State lingers as the State Commissioner for Information, Ranti Akerele who yesterday appeared before the State House of Assembly to explain the discovery of accounts insisted that it actually existed.
The House of Assembly had summoned the Finance Commissioner, Wale Akinterinwa and his Information Commissioner to appear before it yesterday to shed more light on the discovery of the said secret accounts.
While Akerele appeared before the House yesterday, Akinterinwa was said to be indisposed and was unable to appear before the Lawmakers.
Meanwhile, the Lawmakers have asked the Finance Commissioner, Accountant General and Auditor General to appear before it next Tuesday to explain governmentâ€™s findings on the accounts.
Akerele told the Niyi Adebusoye-led Public Account Committee that details of the said accounts and other information needed would be provided by the governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko within the next one week.
According to him, â€œthe Committee working on the finances of the state is expected to round up its findings this weekend and the governor would address all these issues and the discoveries.
â€œAll l know is that some discoveries have been made and at the appropriate time it would be made public by the governor.
The Commissioner said he was reacting to queries from newsmen after the immediate administration was attempting to stampede the present administration to disclosing what it met in the state coffers.
Akerele added that it was while the committee was still looking at the number of accounts being operated by the state government that it was discovered that some were not in the list made available to government.
But a member of the Committee Thompson Atikase said it was embarrassing and unfortunate that the state government who alleged the existence of secret accounts cannot substantiate the allegation.
Atikase advised the government against misinforming the public about the alleged secret accounts, saying that facts and figures should have been obtained before rushing to Press.
Chairman of the Committee Mr Adebusoye said the allegation â€œlooks like a political calculation to destroy and malign some people.
Adebusoye asked, was the account opened on behalf of the state government or group of individuals, where do the files emanated from and who is responsible. These are the questions we want you to explain to the publicâ€.
He was pique that the Permanent Secretary and the Director in the Finance Ministry were not present to stand in for the Commissioner.
He therefore asked the Finance Commissioner, the Accountant General and Auditor General to appear before the House on Tuesday with details of the said accounts.
It wold be recalled that the Assembly which summoned the commissioners said the summons became imperative, following the controversy the issue had generated and because the matter is of public interest.
They were asked to name the signatories to the accounts, operators, the number of the accounts so far discovered, the names of the banks and their locations and the exact amount discovered in the secret account.
The Deputy Speaker Mayowa Akinfolarin said â€œthose who give weighty information should be able to substantiate them so that proper action could be takenâ€.
Akinfolarin said culprits if found to be true would be prosecuted.
He said, â€œas representatives of the people of this state, we should know how tax payers money are being spent. We are ready to get to the root of this matter, if it is individual that opened these said accounts we want to know so that action could be taken by prosecuting the culprit.
â€œThis is not to witch-haunt anybody but the truth must be known as regards this allegation that is why we have invited the two relevant commissioners.