PANEL: N11.9 billion stolen from LG accounts from 1999-2007

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The Judicial Commission of Inquiry on the activities of the seventeen
local government councils in Enugu State from January 1999 to 31st
December, 2007 has said that over eleven billion naira
(N11,901,545,490.00) of allocations to local government councils in
the state within the period remain unaccounted for.
 
 
The Chairman of the seven member commission; Hon. Justice Anthony
Onovo, who announced this while presenting the report of the
commission to the state governor Mr. Sullivan Chime at the government
House Enugu said it was the recommendation of the commission that the
sum be recovered from the people responsible.
 
Hon. Justice Onovo explained that the commission went through the cash
books and payment vouchers provided by the 17 local governments and
the 39 development centers and scrutinized a total of 50,094 payment
vouchers of the local governments from the year 2006 and also
inspected and verified projects executed.
 
He however pointed out that the commission was unable to receive any
single document relating to allocation of revenue to the local
government in the state out of the federation account for any part of
the period under review from any officer past or present in the state.
 
According to him, up till the point of submitting the reports,
treasurers that served in four development centres, Nsukka East,
Ezeagu North, South, and West have not fully submitted their cash
books and payment vouchers as demanded by the commission at its
inauguration.
 
Hon. Justice Onovo observed that the total amount received by the
local government is over seventy nine billion naira
(N79,442,748,374.49) made up of over seven billion naira
(N7,759,582,888.37) direct payment to the council and over seventy
one billion naira (N71,683,163,165,483.12) allocation paid to the
council through the ministry of finance.
 
According to the report while the 17 LGA received the sum of over
seven billion naira (N7,759,582,888.37) from June 1999 to April 2002
by direct allocation the sum of over thirty-eight billion naira
(N38,898,617,109.41) was through the ministry of finance for the same
period.
 
Justice Onovo said from investigation they could found no explanation
for the where about of the sum of over three billion naira
(N3,076,429,603.32) and also that allocation to the local government
were usually not in full because they were used for the state for
purpose other than those authorized and could not find explanation for
the sum of N3,423,475,356.84) transferred out of JAAC account into
various state government account.
 
The commission also noticed a lot of impurity in the past with tales
of missing public documents some of which were allegedly burnt and
beyond recovery. It therefore further recommended the recovery of
COT from the Banks in view of a central bank circular on it and
recovering of over seven billion naira (N777,396,336.52) N3,
423,475,356.84; N3,076,429,603.32 from the former accountant general
who refused to give any explanation for those transfers and non
appearance of the funds in JAAC Account.
 
It also recommended greater effort and accountability in revenue
generation in the local government administration in the state,
recovering of over payment of security vote made to council chairmen
for a period of between 2006 – 2007, and recovering of the sum of
N232,602,437.70 from treasurers of eleven local governments that
failed to post the money paid to the council into their main cash
books.
 
The commission blamed the local government service commission and
ministry of local government in the state for failure to discharge
their statutory responsibilities on issues of guidelines and
monitoring of the activities of the council and recommended that local
governments should on monthly bases prepare bank reconciliation
statement and submit to the commission before receiving the next
allocation.
 
The commission recommended that JAAC account should be audited
annually by the auditor general of local government, the
reconstitution of JAAC members, more training programme for local
government staff, use of date capturing machines for personnel audit
of the local government and verification of claims of debts owed
individuals by the local government among others.
 
According to Hon. Justice Onovo the commission’s report is in four
volumes, the main report, graphic details and images of atrocities
committed in the local government including town engineers turned
contractors, use of Fictious receipts, over pricing of contract and
outright embezzlement of funds, and payments made for non existent
jobs purported to have been done.
 
Other volumes contained proceedings of the commission at both the
private and public hearing, appendices for facts and figures,
memoranda, date and other communication received and relevant payment
vouchers.
 
Justice Onovo thanked governor Chime for the opportunity given them to
serve the state and expressed the hope that their findings and
recommendation would help the governor in his zero tolerance for
corruption and guide the future conduct of hose in charge of
government at the local government level and at other levels of
government and spheres of public life.
 
Receiving the report, Governor Chime thanked them for a job well done
despite odds and challenges they encountered and said, “from the
survey, it is obvious that you did a detailed insight in the
activities of the local government.”
 
The Governor therefore assured them that the report will be studied in
details and take appropriate steps to implementing the recommendations
adding that the local government will not be the same in the state by
the time he leaves office.
 
The commission was inaugurated on 15th day of April 2008 with Hon.
Justice A. O. Onovo as chairman. Others are Chief Laz Ugwu, Chief
Nicholas Ojike, Igwe Chris Ngene, Mrs. Josephine Onaga, Chief Gilbert
Obu and Mr. Henry Nwatu as Secretary.

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