Speaker Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Kombowei Benson
By Segun James
Policemen from the Anti- fraud unit, Force headquarters, Abuja, Friday stormed the Bayelsa State House of Assembly to investigate the alleged diversion of N78million approved by the state government for the 43rd Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in South Africa which held from June 29 to July 8.
The action of the Police was based on a petition by a civil society group, Transparency and Good Governance Coalition claiming that the Speaker, Kombowei Benson and members after receiving the sum failed to attend the 43rd CPA conference but allegedly diverted the money.
But surprisingly, a few moments after being grilled, the speaker and some members of the House took off for Malaysia Friday.
Speaking at a 2-day Capacity Training for Journalists organised by the Federated Correspondent Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Yenagoa Friday, the Speaker, Kombowei Benson who was represented by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Preye Kiyaremo argued that the claims of the petitioners were not true and that the members of the House have been questioned by the anti-fraud unit of the Nigerian Police on the allegations.
Benson said though the House members arrived late for the conference due to late procurement of visas, the members returned the sum of N19.5million of unspent fund on registration for the conference, “the Speaker is a God-fearing man and he is man that does not do anything that is fraudulent.”
“We arrived at the venue of the conference late and got the closing ceremony. We interacted with other legislators and got the communiqué arrived at by member legislators. Our arrival was late because of the delay in the visa. And on the 3rd of August, we refunded the sum of 19.5million being sum for the registration that were not expended.”