BY GABRIEL ENOGHOLASE
BENIN—PEOPLES Democratic Party, PDP, lawmakers in the Edo State House of Assembly have passed a resolution directing the Economic and Finance Crimes Commission, EFCC, to investigate the state/local government joint account effective from May 12, 2014.
The state legislature, which was presided over by the factional Speaker, Chief Festus Ebea, also directed the Accountant General of the Federation, and the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission, RAMFAC, to withhold the revenue allocation accruing to the 18 local government areas of the state.
They also asked the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs to bring before the House, evidence of revenue receipts from the Federation Account as it earlier directed.
It will be recalled that the Edo State House of Assembly has been factionalised following the suspension of four PDP lawmakers, who had defected from the All Progressives Congress, APC, on June 9, with Speaker Uyi Igbe also leading 15 other APC legislators.
The resolution of the PDP lawmakers was sequel to a motion of urgent public importance moved by the member representing Etsako West constituency I, Mr. Abdulrazaq Momoh, who drew the attention of the House to the refusal of the state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Lucky James, and council chairmen to furnish the House with receipts and expenditures of revenue allocations.
Momoh said that Section 129 of the 1999 constitution empowers the legislators to procure all evidence or summon any person living in Nigeria to come and give evidence.
He said: “Local governments are being constantly shortchanged as less than half of the Federal Allocation only gets to them,” and therefore, urged the House to take necessary steps as part of its oversight functions to stop what it described as rip off of Edo councils.
Seconding the motion, the Minority Whip of the Assembly, Mr. Kingsley Ehigiamusoe, said the legislators have a duty to procure evidence and summon any official, adding: “We must summon them by whatever means. The Revenue and Fiscal Mobilisation Commission should look into the statutory receipt so that the fraud of the ministry could be checked.”
Factional Speaker of the legislature, Ebea, thereafter directed that clean copies of the resolution could be sent to Governor Adams Oshiomhole, the anti-graft agencies, the Ministry of Finance and other relevant state and Federal Government agencies for their actions.