NGOs, lawyer sue Bayelsa government, Assembly over state’s finances
A coalition of 45 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) has sued Governor Douye Diri, four commissioners, and the Bayelsa State House of Assembly at the High Court, Yenagoa over the state’s finances, loans obtained, and debt profile from 2015 to date.
The aides listed as respondents in the suit are, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, as well as their Health and Education counterparts.
The plaintiff in the suit on behalf of the 45 NGOs and Secretary-General of the Bayelsa Non-Governmental Organisations Forum (BANGOF), Kemedengiyefa Opia, said the groups decided to go court to enable the Bayelsa people to know how their finances are being spent.
The 45 members of BANGOF in the suit marked YHC/183/2020 are asking the Court to issue an order of mandamus compelling the defendants to provide information on the state’s accounts from 2015 to 2019 in line with provisions of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2011.
“We are seeking an order of mandamus compelling Governor Diri to make public the debt profile, account balance, and what the present administration inherited from the previous administration on February 14, 2020.
“We also want Diri to make public, the total workforce of the State Civil Service, monthly wage bill, list of loans obtained for projects and their level of implementation as of February 14, 2020.”
The Guardian recalled that the suit came a few days after the House of Assembly approved Governor Diri’s N17b loan request, which he said, would be used to boost the state’s economy and enhance good governance.
The approval, which was done on Wednesday followed a motion by Leader of the House, Monday Bubou Edwin Obolo, and seconded by the representative of Brass Constituency, Charles Daniel.
Also, a human rights lawyer, Ebikebuna Aluzu, sued the House of Assembly at the State High Court over the state’s financial and loans status.
In the suit marked: YHC/168M/2020, which also has the Speaker and all members as defendants, Aluzu is seeking information on the Auditor-General’s report on the state government accounts for the year ended December 31, 2012, to December 31, 2019.
MEANWHILE, the Movement for the Survival of Izon Ethnic Nationality in the Niger Delta (MOSIEND) decried the House of Assembly for approving Governor Diri’s request to obtain another N17b loan.
Chairman of the Central Zone, Comrade Taribolou Ogboriyo, who stated this while briefing newsmen in Yenagoa, the state capital, described the lawmakers’ action as painful and untimely, especially as Bayelsa has been classified among the top five poorest states in the country.
He lamented the lack of development projects in the state nine months after the Diri administration came onboard, noting that the legislators were largely responsible for the indebtedness of the state, as the Assembly always approved every executive bill sent to it without scrutiny.
Taribolou, who warned that such moves by the House of Assembly would be resisted henceforth, said Diri’s Prosperity Government had borrowed about N30b since inception and urged the governor to refrain from such borrowings, as there was no justification for the loans.
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