NIGERIA: Ebonyi Alleges Freezing of Local Council Accounts

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 The Ebonyi State Government has accused some prominent politicians based in Abuja of orchestrating a grand design to scuttle the smooth running of governance in the state in order to achieve selfish political agenda.

The government lamented that the situation was making difficult to pay workers’ salaries as well as conclude some on-going developmental projects in the state.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Monday, the Attorney General of the state, Dr.  Ben. Igwenyi, said the problem in the state started last November when the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) erupted in crisis leading to the defection of many members to Labour Party (LP).

He said since the emergence of LP as a major force in state, PDP chieftains who are Ebonyi indigenes have been persecuting the state government and its functionaries.

Firstly, it’s the rising spate of frivolous petitions against state government officials in charge of finance. Also, in the past three weeks, the state Accountant-General, Mr. Edwin Igbele; the Commissioner for Finance, Timothy Odaah and the Commissioner for Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Celestine Nwali, have been guests of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

“The allegation against them is that some local government funds which were legitimately spent in 2012 and 2013 were unlawfully spent. These are all lies because the documents are there to speak for themselves. Even without hearing from the above mentioned officers, the Joint Account of the 13 local governments was frozen by EFCC contrary to section 34(1) of EFCC Act 2004.

“The joint account of local governments was frozen when there was no evidence of the money being proceeds of corruption,” he said.

Commenting further on the alleged freezing of the state/local government joint account,  Igwenyi said the state government was aware that the EFCC is acting on a instruction by some highly place federal government officials who are from the state.

According to him, EFCC had adopted a selective approach in the  invitation of the chairmen, as those who were not reappointed by the state governor and had remained in the PDP have never being invited by these anti graft agencies.

He also said many states in the federation currently appoint caretaker chairmen to administer the affairs of local council pending the elections, adding that the Ebonyi State case has been taken too far due to partisanship.

Igwenyi accused EFCC and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offence Commission (ICPC) for portraying themselves as the enforcers of the PDP as they only go after perceived enemies of President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP government.

“As we address you now, there is another petition from the same group pending at the ICPC over the same frivolous allegations. We will not be surprised if there is another one pending at the IGP’s office against the state officials all aimed at destabilizing the state government,” he said.

He said the whole idea of the persecution by some prominent sons of the state working in the presidency is nothing but to frustrate the state government from its resolve to pitch tent with the LP and to contest the forthcoming election on the party’s platform.

“Let the federal government do something now to arrest the situation because what is brewing in the state is capable of resulting in catastrophe,” he said.

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