By CrossRiverWatch Admin
Despite the presence of the third tier of government in Cross River State, the Senator Ben Ayade’s led administration still operates and controls a Joint Account with the 18 local government areas in the state.
A document obtained by CrossRiverWatch shows that nearly a 100 days after they were sworn in, the State has withdrawn another NGN1.2bln to procure vehicles for the 18!Chairmen, 18 Vice Chairmen and 196 Councilors.
CrossRiverWatch gathered that a few council bosses thought they would have access to their allocations and be able to deploy resources to development. When this did not happen, they tried to protest but were soon invited to a meeting with the Chief of Staff to Governor Ayade, Mr Martin Orim and reminded of how they were hand-picked into office. They were cowed.
Aside from the fact that they still don’t have direct access to their monthly allocations as stipulated in the NFIU rules, deductions are still been made from the Joint Accounts Allocation Committe JAAC account, lawlessly by the governor with the active connivance and collaboration of the local government Chairmen.
A letter titled “REMITTANCE OF FUNDS: PROCUREMENT OF VEHICLES FOR CHAIRMEN, VICE CHAIRMEN AND LEADERS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCILS” signed by Mr. Jacob Adie, a Deputy Director of Accounts JAAC, for the State Commissioner for Local Government Affairs Stella Odey, which has been obtained by CrossRiverWatch, reads in part: “In compliance with the guidelines of the NFIU and approval from His Excellency, the Governor of Cross River state;
“In line with the above therefore, I request the Local Government Councils to remit the sum of N67,777,777.78k (sixty seven million, seven hundred and seventy seven thousand, seven hundred and seventy seven Naira, seventy eight kobo) only, being funds for the procurement of the above vehicles to the account details specified below as soon as Council account is credited.
Account Name: CRS Ministry of Local Government Affairs, Common Services Account.
Bank: First Bank of Nigeria
Account No: 2033935968.
The letter which did not specify the section of the NFIU guidelines it was complying with, was dated September 2, 2020 with reference number: MLGA/S/JAAC/40/Vol. 1/847 and addressed to all 18 LG Chairmen and the monies, totalling N1,220,000,000.04 Kobo (One billion, two hundred and twenty million, four kobo), have since been remitted as directed.
In a related development, the illegal deduction of N2.5 million monthly, under the “Security Coverage” sub-head, which subsisted during the reign of the immediate past Heads of Local Government Administrators HOLGAs, has been edged higher.
CrossRiverWatch investigations revealed that, after some of the Local Government Chairmen unsuccessfully protested the deduction of N2.5million monthly from their allocations for security coverage, they decided to strike a ‘deal’ with Government House Calabar.
Sources said the Chairmen were only given NGN500,000 and asked to retire the NGN2.5million and some felt that security at the Local Government is something that the Chairmen can do by themselves with the NGN2.5million.
When the protest didn’t yield the desired result, the Chairmen then decided to connive with the Ministry to pad NGN2.7million into the monthly security coverage sub head, making it N5.2million, up from N2.5 million per Local Government Area.
The NGN2.7million padding also has a sharing formula. NGN1million for the Councilors and NGN1.7million for each Council Chairman, while the N2.5million is said to be remitted to the State House of Assembly, though this claim hasn’t been independently verified by CrossRiverWatch.
But even with this compromised sharing formula, CrossRiverWatch learnt that the Chairmen are up in arms with the Ministry because after remitting NGN5.2million, the State kept NGN4.2million and only gave the Chairmen NGN1million against what was agreed.
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