Special Fraud Unit is investigating a case of Conspiracy, Misappropriation and Conversion of N78,000,000.00 public funds leveled against Hon. Kombowei Benson, Speaker and 18 other members of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly.
In a petition submitted by Transparency and Good Governance Coalition, Abuja, the group alleged that the suspects requested for approval of N78,000,000.00 from the Governor to attend the 43rd Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Africa Regional Conference in South Africa from 29th June, 2012 to 8th July, 2012.
It was further alleged that the Speaker and his members of the State House of Assembly did not attend the conference rather they converted public fund to their personal purse.
Police investigation so far revealed that the Speaker, leading other 18 members, including his Deputy, with the exception of Hon. Omonibeke and three others departed Nigeria for South Africa allegedly for the conference on the 6th of July and arrived Johannesburg on 7th July, 2012, the day the conference ended.
It was also discovered that no attempt was made by the speaker and his members to go to the venue of the conference rather they relied on the information given to them by the Clerk and the Protocol officer that the conference had ended.
All the suspects blamed their departure/arrival for the conference on the late issuance of visa by the South African Embassy.
Further investigation revealed that only Hon. Omonibeke Emelayefa attended the conference and paid the conference fees of $3,500USD out of the N2.3m given to him having arrived two days earlier. Two other Honourable Members, Hon. Azibola and Hon. Angaye Fini Terah decided that they were already late for the conference and aborted the journey and made refunds.
The Commissioner of Police in-charge of the Unit, CP Tunde Ogunsakin is determined to prosecute the offending lawmakers and indeed all public officials that collect government funds for official trips and end up on personal frolicking, if found culpable.