By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- SENATE President Bukola Saraki has ordered a thorough investigation into plans by the Senate Committee on States and Local Governments to extort well over N140 million from 360 local governments in the country.
A source told Vanguard yesterday that the Senate President who is angry over the development which he said would dent the image of the Senate, has also vowed to refer the matter to the police for further investigation.
Vanguard gathered yesterday that the said money will be paid by ten local governments from each of the thirty- six states of the country, amounting to 360 local governments out of the 774 local governments in the country.
According to the source, each local government would cough out N400,000 each and this would cover what the Committee described as fee for venue, Dinner for all delegates, sourvenir, publicity, coverages, honourarium, production and distribution of project brochure.
The Committee in a letter to all the Chairmen of the 360 local governments said that they were being given awards in recognition of their performances which is slated to take place on 23rd March, 2017 at the International Conference Centre, Abuja by 6 pm.
The letters were signed by the Committee Clerk, Japhel I. Sagai.
In one of the letters written to a local government chairman from Enugu State which Vanguard sighted and dated 23rd January, 2017 and titled, ” Nomination for the Nigerian Local Government Development Award, the Committee said that the award was arrived at after it undertook an assessment your of Local governments in the country aimed at encouraging transparency, accountability and healthy competition of performance among the various local Chairmen in Nigeria.
In the letter, Sagai asked the Chairmen to pay into Account name SEGNIP limited with account number 2016749524 in First Bank and another bank with same name and account number 1014576297 and this should be paid to UBA and all the registration fee must be paid on or before 7th March, 2017.
The letter read in part, ” the Committee on States and Local Government Administration of the Senate undertook an assessment tour of Local Governments in the country aimed at encouraging transparency, accountability and healthy competition of performance among the various local government Chairmen in Nigeria.
” It is aimed at challenging the various local government administrations to the tenets of good governance that is required to fast tract grassroots development and it enable the Committee initiate laws that will strengthen local governments to function efficiently at stimulating grassroots development.
” A major outcome of the assessment is the nomination of deserving Chairmen for the Nigerian Local Development Award in each state of the federation.
” To this end, in recognition of the developmental strides in your local Government Area as attested to by the impactful projects on the IGR of your local Government Area, the Senate Committee on States and Local Government Administration has found it auspicious to nominate you as one of the best states fie the Nigerian Local Government Development Award.
” Each local government is requested to pay a registration fee of N400,000.00. The fee shall cover for venue, Dinner for all delegates, Sourvenir, Publicity, Coverages, Honourarium, production and distribution of project brochure.”
It was also gathered that the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Abdullahi Gumel, APC Jigawa North West was said not to have any knowledge of the Programme, and all efforts to reach him proved futile.