EFCC Quizes Kwara Govt, State Assembly Officials over Suspicious Payments

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Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja and Hammed Shittu in Ilorin

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ilorin Zonal Office, has commenced investigations into the alleged illegal payment of about N400 million to some members of the Kwara State House of Assembly and the State Executive Council members before the expiration of their tenures.

In a statement by the commission’s Acting Head, Media and Publicity, Tony Orilade, the anti-graft agency said yesterday that it was currently interrogating the Secretary to the State Government, Sola Isiaka Gold and the Clerk of the State House of Assembly, Kperogi Halimat Jummai, over the alleged payment which did not follow due process.

The EFCC said: “It was gathered that all the 25 lawmakers and some members of the State Executive Council, two weeks ago received about N400 million severance gratuity before the expiration of their tenure despite the fact that the state is owing workers about three months salaries,.

“The petitioner said even though the lawmakers and members of the State Executive Council were entitled to severance payment, it was the next administration that was supposed to pay the money.

“It was further alleged that the State Government with “selfish intent”, swiftly paid the money before the expiration of their terms.

“More worrisome was the issue of furniture allowance running to hundreds of millions of naira according to the petitioner, which they wanted paid along with severance gratuity”.

“In a letter written by the Speaker, Kwara State House of Assembly, Dr. Ali Ahmed to the State Governor, it was confirmed that the lawmakers were entitled to severance gratuity at the end of their tenure due to terminate on June 7, 2019.

“The letter further stated that in accordance with the provisions of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMA & FC) Honourable Members are entitled to 200 percent of their annual basic salaries as their severance gratuity allowance at the end of their tenure of Office”.

Kperogi who confirmed that the lawmakers had received their severance gratuity was said to have told EFCC’s operatives that the payment was approved by the State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed.

Kperogi was quoted to have further said: “In a meeting of the Principal Officers of the Kwara House of Assembly held on 8th of May, 2019 wherein I am scheduled to be the secretary, issue of Severance Gratuity to the honourable members was raised. The principal officers were informed that the State Governor has approved the payment of the Severance Gratuity.

“At the meeting, I informed the House that his Excellency had approved the payment, adding that members were expected to be paid after the expiration of their tenure of office. The House debated it and they overruled me”.

On the other hand, the SSG, Gold, was said to have written and sought for the approval of the severance gratuity and furniture allowances amounting to about N300 million for some members of the State Executive Council.

In a letter dated May 8, 2019, Gold was quoted to have said: “Your Excellency, by virtue of the provisions of Kwara State Remuneration of Political and Public Office Holders Law, certain category of political and public office holders are entitled to severance and furniture allowances of their basic salaries respectively upon successful completion of tenure.”

According to the SSG, while the lawmakers have received their monies, members of the State Executive Council are yet to receive their gratuity.

Meanwhile, the commission was also said to be investigating the pictures circulating in the social media, which claimed that the government officials were packing four trucks full of loads to an unknown destination.

The store keeper of the state, according to the EFCC, is being interrogated as at the time of this report.