EFCC quizzes Edo council officials over alleged fraud
The Benin Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the weekend quizzed some officials of the Esan North East Local Council for allegedly conniving with the Council Chairman, Mr. Augustine Okoibhole, to defraud the council.
The council officials affected were those in the cash office, exco recording, procurement office, health, revenue and works departments.They were invited based on a petition against the council boss who was accused of corrupt practices.
However, sources close to the EFCC said that the council officials were granted administrative bail.Nine councillors from ward 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 had recently petitioned Governor Godwin Obaseki wherein they accused the chairman of financial recklessness as well as operating multiple council accounts.
The councillors alleged that the chairman had not been able to account for N13,348,000 remitted to one of the accounts by the revenue verification committee.They also alleged that N144 million realised as Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR) for the past 16 months and the N116,350,894 Paris Club refund had not been accounted for.
But Okoibhole, while denying the allegations, said that he had executed several projects.“The new NFIU (Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit) directive gives us room to operate three accounts and that is what we are doing, we are operating three accounts.
“We have been paying salaries, we are not owing workers salaries. I have done many projects. I have built a livestock market, I have done drainages and all these monies did not come from my personal pocket. What we have done is even far more than N144 million. My wage bill on monthly base is over N30 million and for the last 25 months, I have paid salaries. I have debts that we are owing on rented property and several other spending,” he said.The Council boss, who also commented on the Paris Club refund, said he acted as directed by the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, to pay salary arrears.
“We were owing eight months and now we are owing only two and half months which means I have paid five and a half months,” he said.Meanwhile, Spokesman for the EFCC, Benin Office, Mr. Wilson Oseghale, said: “We invite people from everywhere all the time for interrogation and we always make public anybody who is with us. We invite people from all sectors all the time.”
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