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The Benue State House of Assembly has recommended the suspension of chairmen of the 23 local government areas in the state, as well as the local government legislative councils over alleged mismanagement of public funds.
Recommendations according to a newspaper report was sequel to the interim report presented on the floor of the House by Peter Ipusu-led three man adhoc committee set up by the Speaker, Aondona Dajoh, to look into the financial records of the 23 Local Government Council from February to April, 2023.
The setting up of the committee followed a correspondence from Governor Hyacinth Alia to the House dated June 14, 2023 wherein he submitted the financial reports of the Local Government Councils as forwarded to his office by the 23 Local Government Council Chairmen.
Part of the letter from the Governor read, “Following the receipt of the report of income and expenditures of the Chairmen of the 23 Local Government Councils submitted themselves on the 14th of June, 2023, I hereby forward the above report to you for investigation and necessary recommendations, please.
”Presenting the interim report of the investigative committee before the House on Wednesday, the Chairman and member representing Katsina-Ala West State Constituency, Ipusu, who relied on the provisions of Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, expressed the committee’s worries over “the outright disregard for procedure and mismanagement of public funds over the period under review.”
The chairman explained that the committee came with “an interim report and we want to make a prayer before the House that the period of review be extended to cover from June 2022 to June 2023.
“The committee also prays that in order to conduct its investigations without any interference, the committee recommends the immediate suspension of the Executive Council Chairmen in all the 23 Local Government Councils and also the Legislative Council for conniving with the Executive Council to mismanage the public funds put in their trust.
“The committee also prays that the suspended Chairmen and Legislative Councils should be prepared to appear before the adhoc committee anytime their attention is needed for clarification.
“The Chairmen are also directed to handover all Government affairs and property in their care to the Directors General Services and Administration, DGSAs, with immediate effect and proceed on suspension pending the investigation into their books of account and other related matters.
“The Governor should without any further delay set up caretaker committees in the Councils in line with the Benue Local Government Laws. And the Benue State Commissioner of Police is to ensure a seamless transition at the various Local Government Councils without friction.
”In its resolution, the House presided over by the Speaker Dajo, adopted the recommendations of the adhoc committee and ordered the immediate suspension of the chairmen and the legislative houses.
The House equally resolved to extend the investigation to cover the whole tenure of the Local Government Councils, saying “the three months report into the finances of the Councils has revealed infringements on the Financial Memorandum of Local Government and other extant laws governing the Management of funds at the third tier of government.”
The sacked Council Chairmen were elected in May 2022 during the Samuel Ortom led administration on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party.
Governor Alia is of the All Progressives Congress.