As EFCC quizzes Umar
By Funmi Komolafe & Victor Ahiuma-Young
Abuja—Issues pertaining to the N2.6 billion failed housing project of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Kriston-Lally yesterday, tore the delegates at the NLC conference apart with delegates throwing chairs at one another as disagreement deepened on the failure of the NLC leadership to reveal all in the financial report submitted to the conference in session.
Earlier yesterday morning, it was gathered that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had invited the out-going president, Abdulwahed Omar, over the botched deal.
This was confirmed by Comrade Omar who while trying to calm frayed nerves said, “This morning, even the EFCC invited me to ask where is the man ( Kriston-Lally Managing Director). Anytime the security agencies get this money, they will use their instruments to authorize refund to this account. It is under investigation by the Directorate of State Security Service, the EFCC and the office of the National Security Adviser.”
The rowdy session which saw Omar inviting the police, to come in and control the situation was the first time in the 37 years history of the NLC that delegates engaged one another physically.
News of the scam which was broken by Vanguard last year, was raised by a delegate from National Union of Electricity, NUEE, who queried why it was not mentioned in the financial report presented to the Congress in Session.
The out-going Treasurer, Wabba Ayuba, who is also contesting the presidency said, “ It is a separate account and not about the income and expenditure of the NLC. The issue is in public domain. About N2.6billion is still saved in Access Bank. The other account is being investigated.”
His explanation did not go down well with some delegates and he was challenged by the president of NUPENG, Igwe Achese who is also the Trustee in the out-going executive.
Igwe is also a signatory to NLC accounts.
Comrade Achese insisted that since NLC is a signatory to the Kriston- Lally Account, “we have a responsibility. What I am saying is that even if the money is safe, the total money is not safe. Some portion of it is still intact about N2.5 billion, but the total sum of the money is not N2.5billion. Nigerian workers must be prudent, Nigerian workers must have integrity.”
He continued, “One thing we fight against is corruption and we cannot afford to sit down here…..’”
Achese was, however, interrupted while making his presentation, with those in support of the treasurer, shouted him down and while his own supporters countered.
It was at this stage that chairs and other objects were thrown at one another and delegates including international guests scampered to safety.
Omar on his part, called in the police to restore order.
But Joe Ajaero a presidential candidate took over the microphone and calmed delegates.
As the NLC president insisted, “Krison- Lally is not part of NLC income, we cannot discuss it”, delegates shouted No! no ! no!
At this stage, the General Secretary of Medical and Health Workers Union , Marcus Omokhuale, moved a motion for the adoption of the controversial financial report and was seconded by Adeniji Alani of National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives . This also was followed with shouts of no! no!.
Consequently, a counter motion by a delegate from NUPENG urging delegates to reject the report was moved who described the financial report as “unacceptable”.
He told Omar, “Its our money and you are there on our behalf, you cannot sit as judge in your own case, I therefore urge you to step you aside”.
The counter motion was seconded by another delegate from NUEE who said, “NLC is bound to give us an account. Allow integrity to prevail. For your (Omar) integrity, allow the report to be given”.
Omar then called for votes in support or against the adoption of the financial report and he declared “the ayes have it”, although it was not quite clear which side had it as no counting was done.