By Ushang Ewa
Information reaching our newsroom suggests that Governor Ben Ayade had over the weekend succeeded in forcing Heads of Local Government Administration to sign five vouchers of N500,000 each totaling N2.5 million for ‘security cover.’
This is despite a public outcry generated by an earlier report by this Newspaper over the attempt by Mr. Ayade to obtain N45 million from the 18 HOLGAs who are the most senior civil servants in the local governments despite N7 billion appropriated for security vote.
CrossRiverWatch gathered that the HOLGAs were presented with five vouchers of N500,000 to withdraw the cash over a period of five days due to directives of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit which caps daily cash withdrawal for local governments at N500,000.
The HOLGAs are expected to hand over the cash sums to their Calabar Municipal and Calabar South counterparts who will then hand it over to the Deputy Governor, Professor Ivara Esu.
It is unclear what the ‘security cover’ is for as 16 out of the 18 HOLGAs had claimed they could manage their council’s security as they have been doing.
The trend is expected to continue from time to time as an average of N10 million can be withdrawn in cash of N500,000 per day especially as the HOLGAs had bucked under pressure.
The development comes amidst speculations of Governor Ayade been cash strapped as critics claim that it was meant to be diverted for something else especially as over N24 billion has been budgeted for security related purposes.
The budget document shows that asides the N7 billion budgeted for security over N17 billion was earmarked for other security subheads.
The running of Homeland Security, a subset of the Emergency Response Center (ERC) Quick Intervention Squad (QIS) which consists of dozens of Police, Army, Navy and personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps is expected to gulp N2.5 billion.
Security Support Service, which is different from the Security Vote and Homeland Security appropriation mentioned earlier in this report, is expected to be funded with N4 billion while N5 billion was budgeted for “statewide/ward security control.”
Despite these and the fact that the QIS has been existing for about a decade, N60 million was still budgeted for it’s “take-off.” Also, “State Security Project,” and “State Security Project/Border Petrol (patrol) Across the State” will cost N200 million each.
Furthermore, the construction of a police station at Itu bridge head at Odukpani local government area as well as Itigidi in Abi local government area is expected to cost N50 million.
While the State Border Security Agency activities and projects will receive N3 billion, anti kidnapping/anti-cultism activities will gulp N2.873 billion.
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