Friday, 4 December 2015

N8.6b looted from Benue agency’s account, panel told

The Judicial Commission of Enquiry probing the eight-year tenure of former Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam said it has uncovered another N8.6 billion allegedly looted from the Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.

The fund, the panel was told, was meant for the development of the 23 local government areas.

The missing cash was allegedly diverted and handed over to the state branch of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) for unknown reasons.

Testifying before the Justice Margaret Kpojime-led commission Mr Isaiah Ipevnor, a former accountant in the bureau, who served from 2008 till May, this year, confirmed that under the leadership of Prince Solomon Wombo, the bureau allegedly cornered N206 million Subsidy Reinvestment Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) fund and paid it to ALGON.

Ipevnor also told the commission that the bureau got N6.4 billion SURE-P fund, adding that there was no guideline on how to use the money.

According to him, N3.5 million was transferred to the Joint Allocation Committee’s account under his watch.

Ipevnor, who is now a Deputy Director of Accounts in the Ministry of Trade, Industries and Investment, said N58.8 million of the SURE-P cash was diverted to buy security vehicles, another N4 million was spent on the state’s swine cropping farm project.

He said N50 million was given to Ashitech, a conglomerate said to belong to Suswam’s elder brother, Terkura, for the supply of Christmas rice approved by the Joint Allocation Accounts Committee (JAAC).

When the panel sought to know why a man identified as Moses Adura withdrew N43 billion between November 2011 and May, this year, Ipevnor said he was not aware.

He pleaded for time to enable him check the records in order to answer the question.

The panel noted that from the records available to it, Adura withdrew at different times over N10 million from JAAC’s account.

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