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Senate probes Kogi government over alleged illegal’ N180b foreign loan


Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello

The Senate has resolved to investigate the Kogi State government over alleged borrowing of $500 million (N180 billion) from the United Arab Emirates without the required constitutional authorisation from the upper chamber.

It, therefore, mandated its committee on local and foreign debts to probe the allegation and establish the approach used to access the loan, and report back within 48 hours or maximum of five days.

These resolutions followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by Senator Dino Melaye representing Kogi West.

In his lead debate, the lawmaker pointed out that the state was already indebted to a whooping sum of N40 billion.

Melaye alleged the loan under investigation was christened Loan of Debt Refinancing, ostensibly for the state government to avoid approaching the National Assembly for approval.

Also, the lawmaker said that an approval for the loan had already been given by the Ministry of Finance, despite the clear contravention of the provisions of the law.

Melaye alleged that the state government went for the loan to enable it prosecute the 2019 elections and cause mayhem during the polls. He further claimed that the House of Assembly was not carried along.

According to him, the East West Capital Cooperation, based in United Arab Emirates and owned by one Mahmood was behind the loan granted to the government.

“The law clearly states that any foreign loan must be approved by the National Assembly. That was not done. But I am aware that the Minister of Finance has already given the approval. The Senate cannot sit back and allow this illegality to stand. The Senate needs to stop this.”

Aita Aidoko representing Kogi East also alleged that the House of Assembly has adjourned sine die, following the failure of Governor Yahaya Bello-led government to pay salaries and allowances of the state lawmakers.

Aidoko said the situation in the state showed that civil servants had not been paid in the last one year. He further claimed that judicial officials were planning to embark on a state-wide strike over failure by the state government to pay their salaries.

“ As I speak, the salaries, allowances and other payments due to the deputy governor of Kogi State have not been paid in the last one year. Now, the deputy governor is broke.

“Again, his official residence has been thrown into darkness. The government has refused to pay the electricity bill of the residence of the deputy governor. AEDC has disconnected the residence.

“If the government has not been able to justify all the monies it has received in form of allocations, Paris Club refund, bailouts and loans, why will it go for another foreign loan of $500 million? Let us save our state.”

At this juncture, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, assigned the Senate committee to investigate and establish, if the loan has been taken.

Back in Kogi State, the assembly members yesterday boycotted plenary session over the non-payment of their salaries.
The House had adjourned plenary two weeks ago, to resume yesterday, however the plenary session failed to hold as many members chanted “no money no sitting.”

It all started when the lawmakers went into executive session where the issues were first discussed before raising them on the floor of the house. The executive session was so prolonged that many of the members left the complex around 1pm.

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