By Dayo Johnson
THE controversy trailing the operation of secret accounts by a political office holder in the immediate past administration in Ondo State took another dimension yesterday as the two banks in which the funds were allegedly lodged said that the accounts were not secret but known to the state government.
Lawmakers in the state had summoned the bank managers to clarify the operation of the accounts in their banks by the Coordinator of the Multilateral Relations Unit of the Governorâ€™s office, Mr. Bode Obolo following the broadcast of the governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko and the Finance Commissioner, Wale Akinterinwa who appeared before them on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Accountant of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which is under the alleged operator of the secret account Mr. Igbekele Akinroye denied knowledge of the accounts in the Unit
Akinroye at the venue of the meeting between the bank managers and members of the House Committee on Ethics and Public Account probing the secret accounts informed the Committee that Obolo was the sole signatory to the government accounts in both FCMB and Syke Banks and that he knew nothing about the accounts.
A letter written and signed by him and Obolo to the FCMB branch Manager directing the bank to put some amount of government fund in fixed deposit account was shown to him and he was thereafter dumb founded.
The letter entitled â€œfund placementâ€ and signed by them directed the bank to â€œkindly take this as an instruction to place the sum of N9.1million in a fixed deposit account for 30 days at the agreed rate of 11percent.â€
However, speaking at the meeting the managers of the two banks denied the existence of secret accounts in their respective banks contrary to the position of the State the Commissioner for Finance, Mr Akinterinwa.
The Relationship Manager of FCMB, Mr Yinka Adebusuyi told the committee that the total amount of money in the account was N76million and not N842million as stated by the Finance Commissioner.
Adebusuyi said governmentâ€™s fund with the bank is intact but that Obolo had withdrawn only N4.2million, representing the interest on the money deposited with the bank.
According to him, â€œother withdrawals were to the appropriate quarters and not to the family members of Obolo as claimed by the commissioner.
The Banks Manager added â€œthat the N9.1million claimed to have been withdrawn by Obolo in June was not correct as the money was transferred from the Bank to Zenith.
On its part the Syke Bank Manager, Mr Adetunji Salami said the governmentâ€™s account in his bank was known to the government officials and that governmentâ€™s fund in its custody was intact as Obolo has not withdrawn any amount from the account contrary to the Commissionerâ€™s claim.
The Committee members who became confused thereafter asked the Finance Commissioner and the bank managers to appear before them next week Tuesday for more clarification on the vexed issue.
It would be recalled that the Finance Commissioner had told the Committee that two different accounts were opened by Obolo, one in Akure branch of FCMB and Okitipupa branch of Skye Bank.
He said the FCMB account was opened on May 1st, 2004 with a deposit of N842million. Out of this amount, the commissioner said he had withdrawn N768million. He gave the account name as ODSG/UNDP/FTCP while the Okitipupa branch of Skye bank had N97million deposited but N63million had been withdrawn by Obolo.
According to Akinterinwa, the funds in the secret accounts were given to friends, family members and as donations to some organisations by the operator (Obolo) who is the sole signatory to the accounts.