Taraba SSG, five commissioners fired…over misuse of N400m flood relief funds

Is it possible? Could it be? That the question Rommy Mom is asking the government of Benue state (about the flood relief funds) is being re-echoed in other parts of the country?

How else do you explain the story below?

Published on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 06:02
Written by Itodo Daniel Sule, Jalingo

Taraba State Acting Governor Alhaji Garba Umar last night sacked the Secretary to the State Government Emmanuel Njiwah, five commissioners and two special advisers for mismanaging N400 million flood relief funds.
Umar fired the officials hours after they were indicted by the State House of Assembly which adopted the report of its committee that investigated the utilisation of flood funds provided by the Federal Government.
The affected commissioners are Anthony Jellason (Agriculture), Rebo Usman (Water Resources and Rural Development), Yakubu Agbaizo (Education), Charity Green (Women Affairs) and Jonah Agyo (Works).
The two special advisers are Joshua Augustine (Revenue Matters) and Mannaseh D. Kaura(Boarder Development).
“The affected have been removed following a resolution from the Taraba State House of Assembly at its sitting on Monday, 8th July, 2013,” the acting governor’s chief press secretary Kefas Sule said in  a statement.
“They were all indicted by the House for failing to properly account for the four hundred million naira (N400, 000,000) Federal Government intervention fund for the 2012 flood disaster in Taraba State.”
Sule added that “the House of Assembly established that the flood disaster in the state was politicised, mismanaged and reduced to avenue where privileged persons who were involved in the management of the funds played roles which seems to undermine the trust of their offices.”
The statement also directed the sacked officials to hand over to their permanent secretaries or most senior officers in their ministries or departments as the case may be.
Other senior government officials who were on the flood funds committee but not affected by the sack include the Head of Service Augustine Bazing, Commissioner of Justice/Attorney General G.T. Katas, Finance Commissioner Iliya Wanapia, Information Commissioner Emmanuel Bello, Chief of Staff to Governor Danbaba Suntai, some special advisers as well as the State Emergency Management Agency.
Earlier yesterday, the State House of Assembly met in Jalingo and adopted the report of its committee that investigated the utilisation of the flood relief funds.
Chairman of the five-man ad hoc committee and Deputy Speaker Tanko Adamu Maikarfi, who presented the report to the House, said the committee observed that the whole exercise was characterised by shady deals.
The report said a total of 70,607 people were affected by the 2012 floods in the state while 27 of them lost their lives.
The committee found that N300 million of the N400 million was released to the office of the Secretary to the State Government for purchase of relief materials and cash donations to persons that lost relations.
The remaining N100 million was said to have been reserved for the building and renovation of schools, churches and mosques destroyed by floods, which the panel found was not utilised for that purpose.
Subcommittee ‘A’ of the flood funds committee chaired by Agriculture Commissioner Anthony Jellason failed to account for N8,702,580 of the total funds released to it, the report said.
It also found that sub-committee ‘B’, chaired by Health Commissioner Mustapha Hamman Gabdo failed to account for N12, 035,030 of the total funds released to it.
The House committee recommended that the Secretary to the State Government should account for N12,035,030 being the balance of the N300 million that was supposed to be released to Subcommittees ‘A’ and ‘B’ as well as N100,000 logistics funds which he is yet to account for.
The committee also found that N4 million being cost of 400 bundles of zinc not supplied by subcommittee A is not yet remitted to the government treasury.
It said the State Emergency Management Agency failed to go round the state to obtain first-hand information which led to exaggeration and politicisation of figures of the flood victims by the local council areas.
“As if that is not enough, SEMA did not satisfactorily account for the N31, 000,000,000.00 released to it for logistics. Government should take appropriate measures to forestall the reoccurrence of this,” the lawmakers’ panel said.
The report revealed that some of the flood victims did not get the relief materials while some of them turned down the items brought to them because they never met their needs.
It observed that the price submitted for the procurement of relief materials by the two procurement subcommittees appeared unrealistic and recommend that the Bureau for Public Procurement should be involved in determining prices of materials.
“That based on the verbal and written submissions available to the Ad hoc Committee, it has been revealed that the various committees that managed the N400,000,000.00 only Federal Government grant for 2012 flood disaster in Taraba State misappropriated substantial part of the funds. Accordingly, appropriate measures should be taken against them to serve as deterrent to others,” the report said.
After the presentation of the report, members who made contributions were unanimous that officials involved should be sanctioned accordingly and the House subsequently adopted the report. Speaker Haruna Tsokwa commended the committee and said a copy of the report will be sent to Acting Governor Garba Umar for appropriate action.
In an interview shortly after the session, committee chairman Tanko Adamu Maikarfi said attempts were made to halt the committee from releasing the report but they insisted on presenting it since it is in the interest of the people.
Meanwhile, Health Commissioner Mustapha Hamman Gabdo has tendered his resignation and it has been accepted by the acting governor.



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