Lawyers Write Tinubu, DSS, EFCC Over Missing N20bn Funds in Benue

Benue: Lawyers write Tinubu, DSS, invite EFCC to investigate missing N20bn LGs funds

A pro-democracy, anti-corruption and justice sector civil society organisation, Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN), has written a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to arrest, interrogate and prosecute the Special Adviser to Benue Governor Hyacinth Alia on Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Dennis Akura and others for alleged diversion of local government funds.

The petition which was written on Tuesday, 20th February, 2024, was received and acknowledged yesterday at the headquarters of the the anti graft agency in Abuja.

In the petition also sent to President Bola Tinubu, the Director-General, Department of State Services, DSS and the Media, GICN, a group made up of lawyers, private investigators, human rights activists, media professionals and policy analysts, accused Akura and others of supervising brazen embezzlement and diversion of over N20 Billion being part of aggregate Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) funds which accrued to the 23 Local Government Councils in Benue State between June to November, 2023.

It said the LG Bureau under Governor Alia has been using some of its staff and privately owned companies to syphon the funds meant for local governments in the state.

GICN further stated that it had been inundated with complaints and documents from whistleblowers showing that the office of the Special Adviser to Governor Alia on Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs has become a conduit pipe for high level corrupt practices, massive fraud and other sundry offences which prompted its petition to the anti-graft commission.

“From the records attached as APPENDIX 2A and 2B, the aggregate FAAC allocation received in the State Joint Local Government Account (SJLGA), maintained pursuant to Section 162(6) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) for onward disbursement to the 23 Local Government Councils within the period under review totals N55, 897,592,592.81 only.

“Out of the above sum, only N35,849,988,725.37 was disbursed to the 23 Local Government Councils. This left a balance of N20,051,603,867.44, which remains undisbursed, even though the SJLGA is supposed to be a transit account and not a savings account. It happened that Dr. Dennis Akura under the strict directives of Governor Alia, allegedly diverted the aforesaid N35,849,988,725.37 using staff of the Bureau as well as some companies they have registered mainly for that purpose…” the group stated.

The group urged EFCC to ensure that Akura and the others fingered in the petition are brought to justice.

“The EFCC should not allow any of the persons mentioned in this petition to benefit from their own wrongdoing, if fiscal accountability and transparency must be restored in Benue State. We have absolute belief that the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR has zero tolerance for any form of corruption capable of inflicting hardship on the masses and sabotaging the economy of Nigeria as a whole”, it stressed.

In the 17-paragraph petition, the group also attached document evidences of how funds were transferred from various Local Government Council accounts to the account of individual staff of the Bureau and companies, which the lawyers investigated and annexed the full details of owners of each company, with documents from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

Global Integrity Crusade Network urged the anti-corruption commission to ensure that if found culpable, the Benue State officials are made to refund the loot, to serve as deterrent to others.

“We hereby pray, pursuant to our statutory obligations to expose corrupt practices under Section 24(d) and (e) of the 1999 Constitution (supra) and the Whistle Blowing Policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria, 2016, that you urgently ARREST, INTERROGATE and PROSECUTE the Special Adviser to Governor Hyacinth Iornem Alia on Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Dr. Dennis Akura together with all his cronies for the serious offences they have committed”, the petition read in part.

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