Alleged alteration of 2018 Cross River budget sparks disagreements
An alleged alteration of the 2018 Cross River State budget is causing sharp disagreements among Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the state leading to petitions and counter petitions to security agencies.
Following the controversy on the ‘fake’ and ‘real’ budget, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Tina Agbor, had on August 17, convened a meeting to resolve the matter.
But sources told The Guardian that more revelations were made at the meeting, as some top government officials claimed that the 2018 budget signed by Governor Ben Ayade was not valid.
They revealed that the governor has tinkered with the budget for up to six times since it was signed hence the Department of Public Transport (DOPT) was parading it as an authentic document.
It was also learnt that the Chairman, Commercial Transport Regulatory Agency (CTRA), Mfon Bassey, stormed out of the meeting in protest, insisting that the budget signed by Ayade was valid.
Special Adviser, DOPT, Emmanuel Mbora, had through his counsel, Mr. U. Eyong Eso, in a letter dated August 7, 2018, petitioned the state Commissioner of Police (CP) alleging obstruction of lawful duty and threat to Bassey’s life.
Bassey had on August 15 petitioned the CP requesting for investigation and prosecution of Mbora and the Special Adviser on Budget, Moses Onoh, for conspiracy and forgery of budget estimates in the state’s 2018 appropriation law.
Eso said Mbora was responsible for overseeing the DOPT activities and part of his job requires implementation of the 2018 budget and sale of DOPT tickets.
But precisely on August 6, 2018 at Scanobo Filling Station, thugs and Bassey’s agents attacked an agent of DOPT, Iboro Sunday, while carrying out his duties.
Reacting the petition, Bassey described Mbora’s claims as false, insisting that the DOPT 2018 budget as claimed was fake, as the Cross River State Appropriation Law, 2018 forged by Mbora and Onoh, was passed by the House of Assembly and signed by Governor Ayade on April 10, 2018.
He said by law, DOPT has no business collecting taxes and levies from members of the public and in the alleged fake budget, the duo altered the genuine document by adding seven items of revenue with amounts attached thereto.
This, he explained, “resulted to a change of revenue from N154, 971, 453 in the original budget to N333, 871, 453, a difference of N178, 900,000, as the amount added to the revenue and expenditure estimates of DOPT for 2018 by the Special Advisers.”
Contrary to the claims, Bassey said the CTRA has been making monthly returns to government through a direct account.
“I do not have access to the account and when we pay it reflects in the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) account and the money goes under other road taxes sub- head, which I created as a revenue head for government and in 2015 when I came into office. It was approved in the 2016 budget as daily operational toll, which became official revenue head for the state government,” he said.
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