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Stranded Adamawa pilgrims seek probe of alleged missing N60m

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Stranded intending Christian pilgrims from Adamawa State have asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the alleged missing N60 million meant to sponsor 63 Christians from the state to Jerusalem.

Some of the 2019 intending pilgrims that missed their trip to the holy land told The Guardian on condition of anonymity that they could not travel because their money developed wings in the office of the acting executive secretary, Mr. Peter Leha.

They alleged that Leha, who traveled with the first batch from the state, diverted their money and shared it with some top government officials, while top government appointees that were supposed to travel with them on the second batch were put under Abuja.

Such top government officials included the deputy governor, Seth Crowder, and family members of governor Ahmadu Fintiri’s chief of staff, Maxwell Gidado.

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But Leha told The Guardian on Thursday afternoon three different versions of the story. He admitted selecting some top government officials, including the deputy governor and joined them with the Abuja pilgrims, claiming that the national pilgrims board headquarters in Abuja did not clear him to pay for the second batch.

He also said that council chairmen did not pay and that he was still expecting them to make their payments to enable him prepare for the second batch to travel.

In his third version, he said that the money was intact and that he was only waiting for pilgrims’ headquarters in Abuja to direct him to pay for the remaining 60 pilgrims.

“The pilgrims head office in Abuja asked me to pay for only 323 pilgrims, that is the first batch that I traveled with. But when I wanted to make payment for the remaining 63 pilgrims from Adamawa they asked me to wait,” he said.

When asked how much it will cost the remaining 60 pilgrims to travel to the holy land, Leha said, “The money involved is a top secret that I cannot disclose to the media.”

Investigations revealed that only nine intending pilgrims from nine councils paid for the aborted trip to Jerusalem.

Further investigation confirmed that the money was shared to few top political appointees to facilitate his appointment as substantive executive secretary of the Adamawa Christian Pilgrims Board, though by the law establishing the board, he is not qualified to be appointed in such capacity.


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