Panel indicts ex-chairman of fraud
The Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has sworn-in Alhaji Imonofi Osumah Inusa as the Chairman of Etsako West Local Government, after Hon. Yakubu Musa, the erstwhile chairman was removed over his involvement in a N46 million fraud in the council.
Obaseki, while swearing-in Alhaji Osumah at Government House, in Benin City, said investigations by a panel constituted by the state government revealed that the former LG boss, Musa, was engaged in fraudulent activities and lacked the ability to supervise the staff of the Council.
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, hails from Etsako West LGA.
Governor Obaseki maintained that his administration has zero-tolerance for corruption and negligence of duty, noting that no matter the developmental efforts by the state government, the local government must perform their duties before the state can be highly rated in terms of development.
“With the permission and authorisation of the Edo State House of Assembly (EDHA), we dropped Yakubu Musa for engaging in corrupt activities. He was dropped based on the investigation conducted following reports and observations at the monthly Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) meetings I preside over.”
Obaseki said that through the monthly JAAC meetings, he discovered that Musa bloated the council’s wage bill to the extent that his LGA’s bill was in excess of that of Oredo Local Government Area, which has the largest workforce.
He said the investigation showed that the former chairman was negligent in his duties and couldn’t account properly for the council’s funds.
“Local councils in urban areas have common traits. They are heavily indebted, have huge salary arrears and the level of accountability is very poor. I charge you to ensure you do better and guard against corrupt acts. We have zero-tolerance for corruption,” he said.
He continued: “We have several reforms we need to implement as an administration. We will introduce the Contributory Pension Scheme for Local Government early next year. We have resolved the pension crisis in the state and will do the same for the local governments. Accountability in local governments is our priority. Excuses will not be entertained as you will be held liable for whatever happens in your local government.”
Recall that a panel of inquiry was on the 16th September 2019, constituted by the Edo State Government to investigate the alleged diversion of funds in Etsako West Local Government Council, after the case was discovered at the JAAC meetings.
The panel was headed by S.E Omorodion with other members including Mr B.S. Kadiri. Isaac Sanu, Mr F. Ediagbonya, a Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Local Government and Mr S.O Obakpolor, who served as the panel secretary.
They were charged with the responsibility of examining the circumstances surrounding the alleged diversion of funds in respect of monthly payment of salaries in Etsako West Local Council between July 2018 to May 2019, examine the level of involvement of officials of the Local Government Council and apportion blame to erring officials.
The panel’s findings set by Gov Obaseki revealed that over N46m was paid to two ghost workers by a staff employed by the erstwhile Chairman of Etsako West Local Government Council, Alhaji Yakubu. O. Musa.
The indicted staff, Mr Saliu Abdullahi Sule, a Works attendant, Grade Level (GL) 3 in Etsako West Local Council, was deployed to the Department of Finance and Treasury as a computer operator and was assigned the duty of preparing and submitting the monthly salary update for the council by the chairman and heads of his administration. He inserted two ghost workers, namely Sule Fatima and Aliyu Yusuf, placing them on Grade Level fourteen each.
According to the panel, after a period of 11 months and two weeks, Danjuma paid the ghost workers a total sum of N46, 899, 540.27, with the money transferred to his UBA account monthly.
The panel, however, recommended that Musa be “removed from office on grounds of the negligence of duty, improper accounting and auditing of the council’s finances, lack of adequate supervision of staff and for allowing fraud under his nose.”
It also advised that Saliu Abdullahi Danjuma be dismissed from the service on grounds of fraudulent practices. In addition, it was recommended that he should be made to refund all illegally earned monies and thereafter, handed over to the police for prosecution, alongside the ghost workers.
They further urged the State Government to take appropriate steps to “fish out the black legs in Information Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) in charge of Local Government payroll immediately to forestall future occurrence.”
The new chairman, Alhaji Osumah, thanked Gov Godwin Obaseki for the opportunity to serve and pledged loyalty and commitment to work with the governor in developing the council area.