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Friday, 13 November 2015

Benue probe: How N18.7bn was paid into secret account

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for teachers’ salaries diverted to fixed deposit

From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi

FOLLOWING the vacation of stay of proceedings on the two probe commissions set up by Governor Samuel Ortom to probe the administration of his predecessor, Dr. Gabriel Suswam, the Judicial Com- mission of Inquiry resumed its sitting at the Makurdi High Court yesterday.

At the sitting, Chairman of the commission, Justice Elizabeth Kpojime heard that the Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs paid N18.7 billion meant for primary school teachers’ salaries into an unknown account with First Bank in Makurdi.

Permanent Secretary of the Bureau, Mr. Emmanuel Ikpe who testified before the com- mission could not give a satisfactory explanation as to the owner of the bank account, but appealed to the commis- sion to invite former special adviser of the bureau during the period under investiga- tion, Mr. Solomon Wombo and the then permanent secre- tary, Mr. Asen Sambe, to give required clarifications.

Ikpe disclosed that N1.8 billion monthly salaries of primary school teachers owed between October 2013, and June 2014, was lodged in the fixed deposit account number 1017993231 with First Bank.

He, however, admitted that the bureau made payments between January and May 2015 to the tune of N18.7 billion into the unknown ac- count, adding that officials of the bank refused to give the bureau details of the ac- count when the Director of Finance and Administration approached them.

When the commission demanded to know who from the bureau made the payment of N4.6 billion in May and N5 billion in June last year, among others, Ikpe said the then accountant, Mr. Isaiah Ipevnor, and the then perma- nent secretary, Sambe who was the accounting officer, were in the best position to explain.

On why N3.4 million was being paid monthly by the bureau to a contractor, Ameh Technology, Ikpe explained that the Bureau entered a contractual agreement with the company for the supply and maintenance of generating plants in the 23 local government areas of the state.

Justice Kpojime adjourned sitting to enable Ikpe continue with testimony today and next Thursday and also to enable him tender some documents as requested.

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