•Lawmakers Demand Accrued Interest Rate As Stakeholders Fault Akeredolu For Unauthorized Spending
•We Didn’t Operate Secret Account, Says Ex Finance Commissioner
Sequel to the discovery of N4.3 billion stashed in a secret account of a third generation bank, Ondo State House of Assembly has vowed to unravel the mystery behind the gross abuse of office and malfeasance of public funds.
Chairman House Committee on Information, Olugbenga Omole, disclosed this in a statement yesterday, declaring that they’d do everything within to investigate it. Meanwhile, revelations concerning the fund came to the fore at plenary when the House Committee on Public Accounts raised the matter and questioned the executive concerning the funds. There have been controversies over which regime hid the money in said account as the statement released by the state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, to absolve the present administration, suggested that the fraud happened during the immediate past administration.
But an aide to the immediate past governor, Olusegun Mimiko, refuted the allegation, declaring that investigations showed that the account was opened more than 10 years ago before Mimiko was sworn in as governor in 2009. To further unravel the mystery, the lawmakers, among other details, sought to know the source of the funds, the date the money was lodged into the alleged account, the person who authorised the lodging and the accrued interest to date. House Committee Chairman, Edamisan Ademola, who first raised it at Tuesday’s plenary, reeled out the list of banks which at various times benefitted from the alleged secret transactions. Edamisan challenged the competence of the Accountant General for failing to produce necessary documents bearing the transactions and the accrued interest to date.
He maintained that if the statements of financial transactions in the listed banks were not supplied as requested, the House would be forced to take necessary steps as entrenched in the constitution. Responding to questions, Commissioner for Finance, Wale Akinterinwa, pledged to provide the necessary documents, claiming he facilitated the recovery of the money. Speaker of the House, Bamidele Oleyelogun, mandated the Commissioner and the Accountant General to furnish the House with documents on the alleged secret transactions on Thursday 21st May, 2020.
A financial expert in the state, Mr. Rotimi Ogunleye said, “As usual, we are more concerned about who discovered it and how much was in the account rather than the implications of it on the finance of the state and it’s propriety. It is shocking that a whole monthly salary of both civil servants and other public servants in the entire state of ours were missing from the government coffers without anybody knowing for ten good years.
Other than the political noise from it’s discovery, we must begin to think and be bothered about the bleak future that awaits us. What kind of a fraudulent system will encourage the secrecy of such huge amount of the state fund in secret account for ten undetected years?” He wondered why the money was kept secret for over 10 years and the bank didn’t deem it necessary to inform the state government or accountant general. He urged the Assembly to get to the root of the matter, adding that the matter should not be reduced to legislative banters where only voice votes would be used to decide the matter.
But the Commissioner for Finance in late Olusegun Agagu’s regime, whose government was said to be involved in the fraud, Tayo Alasoadura, said Agagu’s administration didn’t operate any secret account. Alasoadura, who is the Minister of State for Niger Delta, said all bank accounts operated by the administration were in the name of Ondo State Government and all were on record. He, however, noted that the inability of the administration to properly hand over to Mimiko in 2009 due to the Court judgement that sacked Agagu as governor might have contributed to the error. He disclosed that late Agagu’s administration left over N30 billion in the treasury of the government as against a debt of N170 billion being claimed by Mimiko at the time.