Labour leaders in Ekiti State on Saturday decried the arrest of the state’s Commissioner for Finance and the Accountant-General by the agents of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), describing the allegation that the Bailout Fund given to the state last year was misappropriated as frivolous and unfounded.
Briefing newsmen in Ado-Ekiti, the Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Odunayo Adesoye, said the state government’s implementation and use of the fund were in line with the decisions taken by labour leaders and other stakeholders in the state.
Adesoye, who was flanked by labour leaders, also circulated a statement signed by labour leaders to condemn the EFCC’s action.
The statement was signed by him, the State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Raymond Adesanmi, the NLC State Secretary, Comrade Patrick Olayemi and the TUC State Secretary, Comrade Adebisi Adebayo James.
“Initially, the state government was reluctant in accepting the fund but because of pressure from workers and other stakeholders, it agreed. We held a meeting at the Archbishop Abiodun Adetiloye Hall, Ado-Ekiti on September 2, 2015 where labour leaders and stakeholders mandated the state government to take the fund.
” The sum of N9.6 billion was subsequently released to the state government by the Federal Government and it sounds funny when the EFCC said it was acting on a petition where N7 billion was allegedly misappropriated. Then, where did the state government get the fund with which it paid arrears of salaries, allowances, pensions and others?
“The Commissioner for Finance, Chief Toyin Ojo and the AG being detained have been doing their jobs in transparent manner. When anybody talks about transparency in the usage of public funds, Ekiti State ranks among the best. Ojo was in the same position during the first term of Governor Ayodele Fayose which left no debt but a surplus of over N10 billion.
” The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) conducted investigations into how state governments used the fund and Ekiti State was given a clean bill of health. If what we read in one of the national dailies today where one Kolawole Olaiya said the EFCC acted on a petition by workers, it acted on a false information and only engaged in witch hunt of innocent people. Olaiya has been removed from office as TUC chair and even relieved of his appointment even before the present administration came into office.
“If it is on his petition that the agency acted, then the petition could be malicious.
“Some states got N33 billion, some got N25 billion and allegations of misappropriation are flying all over, but the EFCC is yet to act. Workers in the state were aware of how the money was spent and we meet monthly to decide on how allocations or any money coming to the state are spent,” he said.
The labour leaders advised that Ekiti State Government functionaries should not be made to suffer unnecessarily as a result of frivolous petitions.
“In conclusion, the leadership of the Public Sector Unions in Ekiti State, on the strength of the above, hereby dissociates itself from any pressure on Governor Ayodele Fayose or any official or officials of government on account of the disbursement of accruals to the state from the said Federal Government Intervention Fund. It is our believe and contention that the Ekiti State Government was transparent enough in securing and in the application of the Bailout Fund,” he noted.
Answering a question on whether the arrest of the officials had any impact on the workers, Adesoye said it does, adding that the payment of their salaries was now hanging in the balance.