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Lalong inherits N222.3b debt, orders return of govt property




AS controversy continued to trail the debt profile inherited by Governor Simon Bako Lalong, the Transition Committee set up by the government has put the total debt at N222.3billion.

The Governor in turn has also appealed to all those who pilfered state resources including vehicles carted away by the former political office holders to return such within two weeks or face appropriate agencies that would compel them to do so.

Meanwhile, the National and State Houses of Assembly Tribunal in Jos has delivered judgments in two petitions before it. The petitions were those of Senator John Shagaya against Senator Jeremiah Useni for the Southern Senatorial Seat in the National Assembly and that of Irene Din against the elected Solomon Maren for Mangu/Bokkos constituency in the National Assembly.

Delivering judgment in the petition filed by General John Shagaya, the tribunal held that there were structural imbalances in the body of the petition which deprived it of all the property that make up a good case and it accordingly dismissed the case for lack of merits.

Reacting to the judgment, counsel to General Jeremiah Useni, Mr. Smart Irabor, described it as a victory to justice. He said it was not justice for democracy but a victory for justice.

On his part, counsel to General Shagaya, Mr. Vincent said that they would study the judgment for possible appeal.

In a different development, a non governmental organization (NGO) based in Jos, Plateau, Bagos Foundation, has empowered 5,000 widows and orphans affected by the violence in the state, its Secretary, Mr. Gyang Musa, has said.

Musa told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Jos that the foundation focused on the group to ameliorate the difficulties they were going through after losing their breadwinners to the violence in the state.

“Many children and their mothers became orphans and widows because of the crises and this has exposed them to all manners of economic hardship. What we have done is to identify them and try and assist them back to their feet again; we want to give them hope again in life,’’ he said.

Musa said that the women were trained in skills like beads making, tailoring, catering, soap making and hairdressing.
“The youths were also trained to acquire various skills in photography, shoe making, carpentry and joinery as well as the repairs of electronics,’’ Musa said.

He said trainees were usually assisted to start their individual outfits so as to work toward self-reliance and minimise dependence on relations.

Presenting the report, the Chairman of the Transition Committee who is also the state deputy governor, Professor Sonny Tyoden said from the records, between May 2007 and May 2015, the sum of N525.35 billion was the total income accruing to the state, statutory allocations inclusive, but the state was left with a debt of N222.3 billion by May, 2015.

According to Tyoden, the sum of N747.65 billion could be said to have been expended on Plateau State citizens, in the last eight years adding that based on the condition of the state, the committee was at lost where all this money went to.

The state deputy governor further added that Central Bank of Nigeria remitted the sum of N2billion to the coffers of Plateau State Government for the benefit of small and medium scale industries in the state adding that about 90% of this amount which was remitted to the state on the 17th of March, 2015 was drawn in two days (between 24th and 26th March 2015), for unexplained expenditure, without a single small and medium scale enterprise in the state benefitting from the money, yet the hand-over notes dated 29th May 2015, stated that the government was yet to access the fund.

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