A cash donation of N1 million by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohammed to journalists covering the State House in Abuja, Nigeria is generating controversies among the reporters.
The receiver of the money, Mr. Horatius Egwa of BusinessDay Newspaper had declared N400, 000.00 upon returning from a trip to receive the "gift" from the minister claiming that he was given N500, 000.00 out of which he was asked to take N100,000 for himself.
However, his colleagues did not believe him. This made them to call for emergency meeting to probe the transaction. The reporters then set up a committee to investigate him. The report of the committee, which though indicted him, however showed that Egwa was actually given N500, 000.00, but was not asked to deduct N100, 000.00 for his personal use.
SaharaReporters sources said the reporters decided to share the rest of the money after the committee submitted its report.
See the committee’s report:
Subject: Report Of Committee: Strictly Confidential For Only State House Correspondents.
Pls find below report to members as directed by committee chairman:
Report Of The State House Press Corps Committee On Investigation Of Alleged Corruption Case Against Mr. Horatius Egwa of BusinesDay Newspaper. 6th October, 2011.
1. The State House Press Corps precisely on 4th October, 2011 after an emergency congress meeting held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, constituted a three-man committee to investigate corruption allegation leveled against Mr. Huratius Egwa of BusinesDay Newspaper.
2. Alhaji Sadiq Aliyu of New Nigeria Newspaper had raised serious concern that he was reliably informed by the FCT Permanent Secretary that Mr. Egwa was handed over the sum of N1million after an assignment for the Press Corps. According to Alhaji Sadiq, instead of N1million, only the sum of N400,000 was handed to the Treasurer, Mr. Tunde by Mr. Egwa.
The committee on 4th October, 2011 met with the FCT Director of Treasury. The following issues were established;
1. Members found out from the FCT Director of Treasury that only the sum of N500,000 cash, was handed over to Mr. Egwa on the same day that assignment held.
2. The FCT Director of Treasury told members of the committee that there was a mix-up from the Permanent Secretary. According to him, a total of N1million was actually approved but for two separate groups. That is, N500,000 for Villa Protocol and N500,000 for the Press Corps.
4. After its meeting with the DOT, the committee proceeded the following day, 6th October, 2011 and met with the Permanent Secretary.
5. The Permanent Secretary confirmed to the committee that he had actually spoken to Alhaji Sadiq and informed him that the sum of N1million was released to Mr. Egwa for the Press Corps. The Permanent Secretary also said that it was a mistake from him since he had intended that the total of N1million be shared between the Press Corps and the Villa Protocol.
6. Haven(sic) heard from the Permanent Secretary himself, Committee members then persuaded him to augment the approval since the already received amount would not be enough for the large Press Corps.
7. The Permanent Secretary agreed with the committee members that he will work on the request and asked that we should meet again with FCT Director of Treasury for possible augmentation.
8. Committee members same day proceeded after meeting with the Permanent Secretary to meet with FCT Director of Treasury to sort out possibility of additional funds.
9. Members of the committee have rescheduled to meet the FCT Director of Treasury.
Based on the findings, the committee makes the following recommendations.
a. That Mr. Egwa attempted to short-change the Press Corps by deducting the sum of N100,000 from the amount released with the excuse that he was acting on the directive of the Permanent Secretary where as there was no such directive from the Permanent Secretary according to explanation given to the committee by the Permanent Secretary.
b. Haven (sic)returned the N100,000, Mr. Egwa should however be warned to desist from collecting monies on behalf of the Press Corps without the knowledge of the house since he is not an executive member. If any member collects monies on behalf of the Corps, deductions must not be made off front without the conscent(sic) of those concerned if it is the case of an assignment.
c. That Mr. Horatius Egwa has however not been found wanting in relation to the N1million allegation.
d. That Alhaji Sadiq's allegations were based on confirmed information provided by the permanent secretary.
e. That Alhaji Sadiq also did not err in the long run.
f. The committee also recommends that the money in question should be shared by those who were present at the assignment. It is wrong for the chairman to take a unilateral decision that the money be shared by the whole house when there is a standing rule of 'Shoot At Sight' endorsed by him and the executive.
g. Press Corps should therefore take steps necessary to erase any acrimony that this issue may have generated for the unity and peace of the association.
1 Felix Onuah -Chairman
3. Alhaji Sadiq Aliyu-Member