The Ekiti State House of Assembly has slammed an indefinite suspension on the 16 local government chairmen and 177 councillors for alleged financial misappropriation.
This resolution was reached yesterday at the Assembly’s plenary, where it also ordered the Auditor General of the local government to begin forensic audit of all accounts of the local government areas.
Addressing reporters in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, on the resolution of the Assembly, the Chairman of House Committee on Information and Leader of Government Business, Gboyega Aribisogan, said the action was in consonance with Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution and Section 82 of the Assembly’s Standing Order.
Aribisogan said the reports submitted by the Public Accounts Committee, which is statutorily saddled with probing the finances of the local governments, in line with Section 82 of the 1999 Constitution, alleged misappropriation, diversion and contract inflation.
The lawmaker said the Assembly could not overlook such infractions.
He said: “We worked on the documents and we realised that the council bosses went on their way to use direct labour for projects that go beyond their approval limits, making them conduit pipes to siphon the third tier of government.
“The ineptitude, corruption, misappropriation, diversion and outright looting discovered in the reports saddened us that the third tier of government was badly managed by these local government elected officials. They showed that they were there to promote their interests and not that of the people.
“Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution stipulates that the House of Assembly shall make laws for the good governance and operations of the councils, including agencies not contained on the Exclusive List.
“We hereby resolve that the chairmen of the 16 local government areas, their appointed officials and all councillors be placed on an indefinite suspension to pave way for a forensic audit of the accounts, for their continued stay in office will obstruct the course of investigation.
“The suspended officials should hand over government properties in their possession to the Directors of Administration.
“We also resolved that appropriate sanctions will be meted out to erring elected or appointed and career officers that are found culpable in the misapplication, misappropriation and diversion of public funds.”
He added: “We saw cases of over-invoicing and contract inflation and there were evidence of how contracts were awarded to families and their cronies.
“We are not going to spare anyone, including the career officers. Whoever is culpable will be sanctioned. But they have the liberty to go to court to challenge our action.”
Aribisogan dispelled the rumour that the local government officials offered the Assembly N8 million bribe to stave off suspension.
The committee chairman said only members of the committee carried out the oversight function.
“On the issue of whether they were coerced or pressured or persuaded to join the All Progressives Congress (APC) does not concern the Assembly. What we are after is ensuring that government money is preserved and spent appropriately,” he said.