EFCC quizzes Kwara SSG, Assembly Clerk over alleged illegal payment of severance to public officers, lawmakers

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ilorin zonal office has said it has commenced investigations into the alleged illegal payment of about N400 million to some members of the Kwara State House of Assembly and the state executive council before the expiration of their tenure.

A statement by the anti-graft commission, which was made available to journalists in Ilorin on Tuesday, said that the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Sola Isiaka Gold, and the clerk of the state House of Assembly, Halimat Jummai Kperogi, are being interrogated over the alleged payment which it said did not follow a due process.

The statement, quoting the petitioner, said that all the 24 lawmakers and some members of the State Executive Council, two weeks ago, received about N400 million severance gratuity before the expiration of their tenure despite the fact that the state is owing her workers about three months salaries.

The petitioner said even though the lawmakers and members of the State Executive Council are entitled to severance payment, it is the next administration that is supposed to pay the money.

More worrisome is the issue of furniture allowance running to hundreds of millions of naira according to the petitioner which they wanted to pay along with severance gratuity.

In a letter written by the Speaker, Kwara State House of Assembly, Dr. Ali Ahmad, to the state governor, it was confirmed that the lawmakers are entitled to severance gratuity at the end of their tenure due to end on June 7, 2019.

The letter said further “in accordance with the provisions of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) honourable members are entitled to 200 per cent of their annual basic salaries as their severance gratuity allowance at the end of their tenure of office.”

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The Clerk of the House, Halimat Jummai Kperogi, who confirmed that the lawmakers have received their severance gratuity told the operatives of the EFCC that the payment was approved by the state governor, Abdulfatai Ahmed.

Kperogi said “in a meeting of the principal officers of the Kwara House of Assembly wherein I am scheduled to be the secretary, held on 8th of May 2019, issue of severance gratuity to the honourable members was raised, the principal officers were informed that the state governor has approved the payment of the severance gratuity.

“At the meeting, I informed the House that His Excellency had approved the payment, adding that members were expected to be paid after the expiration of their tenure of office. The House debated it and they overruled me.”

The Secretary to the State Government, Sola Isiaka Gold, on the other hand, wrote and sought for the approval of the severance gratuity and furniture allowances amounting to about three hundred million naira of some members of the State Executive Council.

Gold, in a letter to the Governor dated 8th of May 2019 said: “Your Excellency, by virtue of the provisions of Kwara State remuneration of political and public office holders law, certain category of political and public office holders are entitled to severance and furniture allowances of their basic salaries respectively upon successful completion of tenure.

According to the SSG, while the lawmakers have received their monies, members of the State Executive Council are yet to receive their gratuity.