With no existing Local Govt chairmen, Ayade unilaterally withdraws N900m from LG accounts
The Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade has unilaterally withdrawn all the money in the local government accounts without the consent of the local government chairmen.
The letter written on the 8th of April, 2020, and signed by the Secretary to the state government, Tina Banku Agbor said the withdrawal was to fight the novel coronavirus otherwise known as Covid-19.
The letter was addressed to the Speaker of the State House, Honourable Joseph Bassey, to intimate him of the development and not to seek the House’s approval.
The letter with the title reads, “Approval for local government councils in the state to contribute N50m each towards the fight against coronavirus”.
It reads, “The Cross River State in its avowed desire to effectively pursue the implementation of measures that would curb the spread of coronavirus (covid-19), a pandemic that’s ravaging the whole world, and increasingly gaining momentum with cure yet to be discovered noted that the main focus of government is to apply precautionary measures against contracting the virus.
“In consideration of the above, the executive council at its 6th emergency meeting of Wednesday 1st April 2020, (CRSEXCO 6th/2020) approved that the 18 local government councils in the state key into the fight against (covid-19) by contributing N50m each amounting to N900m ( Nine hundred Million) only.”
This arbitrary withdrawals go contrary to the new financial regulations issued in 2018 by the Federal government where it was mandatory that all payments due to the local councils be paid directly into their accounts and not the accounts of state governments.
Specifically to curb plundering funds meant for the development of the local councils, the regulations which all the state’s have been complying with, the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) announced the ban on transactions on state and local governments joint accounts.
According to NFIU, such accounts are only transitional accounts from where funds should go directly to the accounts of local governments.
Daily Mail reports that the election to the local government councils in the state was billed for Saturday 4th April, 2020 but was shifted due to the coronavirus.
Who attended the meeting and signed for the local government chairmen was not stated in the letter.
But when Daily Mail contacted the Speaker of the House, he failed to respond to questions he was asked. He quickly turned off his internet as he was online when he was contacted.
Attempts to call him failed as his line was switched off thereafter.
Daily Mail equally tried to reach out to Christian Ita, the Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the Governor but failed to pick his calls.