Seven officials of Esan North East Local Government Area of Edo State have been interrogated by the Benin zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegation of corrupt practices as they were alleged to have connived with the council chairman, Augustine Okoibhole, to defraud the council.
As gathered, the Head of Department (HoD) of Works of the council was the first to be invited last Wednesday, but was released by the anti-graft agency when the allegation of corruption could not be traced to him.
The other seven quizzed were said to have been invited after which some of them were granted bail last Friday while a very senior civil servant of the council would also be quizzed later this week.
When contacted, the spokesperson of the Commission, Wilson, who stated that he was on leave, said “We invite people from everywhere all the time for interrogation, and we always make public anybody who is with us. We invite people from all sectors all the time.”
It was gathered that the council officials were invited based on a petition against the council chairman, who was accused of involvement in corrupt practices to enrich himself at the detriment of the welfare of the people of the local government area, abuse of office and others.
They alleged that the chairman has not been able to account for a N13, 348, 000 remitted to the account of the council by the revenue verification committee just as they alleged that the sum of N144,000,000 realised as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for the past 16 months has not been accounted for.
The aggrieved councilors also claimed that the chairman has not been able to account for the N116,350,894 Paris Club refund.
But reacting to the allegations yesterday, Okoibhole said: “The new Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) directive gives us room to operate three accounts, and that is what we are doing-we are operating three accounts.”
On Paris Club refund, he said he acted as directed by the state governor to pay salary arrears, adding that “we were owing eight months and now we only owe two and half months, which means I have paid five and a half months.”