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Alleged diversion of N700bn bail out funds: Finance Minister, CBN Gov, DG DMO shun Reps

The move  by the House of Representatives to unravel the myth behind the disbursement and utilisation of the over N700 billion bail out funds to the  state governments by the Federal Government for the settlement of  unpaid salaries, gratuities and pension, on Thursday, hit the rock

This followed the absence of the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, the Governor of the Central Bank (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele and the Director General of Debt Management Office (DMO), Mr Bright Nwankwo, before the House ad-hoc committee set up to investigate the matter which sat in Abuja, on Thursday.

While the CBN Governor was represented by Mr Umar Abubakar, an Executive Director, the DG of DMO by Mr Oladele Afolabi, the Minister of Finance did not send any representative.

Expressing displeasure over the absence of the Minister, the CBN boss and the DMO DG at the investigative panel, the Committee chaired by Honourable Sadiq Ibrahim, dismissed their  representatives, saying, “they are not competent officers.”

The Committee, while disclosing  that following the directive of the House to carry out the investigation into the handling of the bail out funds by the state governors, it quickly wrote to the  Minister, the CBN and the DMO demanding for the relevant documents  that would assist it in carrying out the assignment, lamented the responses received from them were negative .

According to the Committee, “the attitudes of these top government officials show who is mismanaging the economy of the country, Nigerians should rise up and call for their resignations immediately.

“They are to come and explain to Nigerians how the bail out funds running to over N700 billion were disbursed, they are sending representatives,they are only interested in borrowing, this has to stop, this is a government that is fighting corruption, this is impunity of the highest order and where there is impunity all sort  of things will happen.

In his contribution, Hon Sunday Karimi said: “This is not acceptable, we are to serve the interest of our people, when funds were disbursed as bail outs to settle workers’ salaries, gratuities and pension but  the money were diverted to other things, that is wrong, people are suffering, people are dying, and you refused to give us the necessary information.

“The information you are supposed to give to us, you are hiding them, this is against the Freedom of Information Act, FOI, we are going to conduct a public hearing on this matter during which the Committee will invite all the workers’ unions in the whole federation, they will tell the whole world how much was collected as bail out funds and now much was paid to them.”

Contributing, Hon Yinka Ajayi, who described the action of the absentees as an insult on the National Assembly as an institution stated that all of them must be compelled to appear before the Committee in person in order to tackle the matter at once.

Other members of the Committee while expressing deep concern over the lukewarm attitudes of the officials in treating the disbursement and utilisation of the bail out funds stated the official should be reminded that they were government employees being paid with tax payers’ money who they should be accounted to.

Ruling on the matter, the Chairman of the Committee, Hon Ibrahim ordered the trio of the Finance Minister, the CBN governor and the DG DMO to appear physically before it with all relevant documents earlier demand from them to be able to carry out its mandate, saying that the officers that appeared before it were not competent to do justice to the matter at stake.

About 28 states approached the Federal Government for assistance  on. The payment of workrs’ salaries and retirement benefits and gratuities  of civil servants which government acceded to their demands but the funds were allegedly diverted by many of the affected states to other areas.