Nasarawa Councils Loose N5 Billion To Illegal Deduction

BY OUR REPORTER

The 13 Local Government Councils in Nasarawa state have lost about five billion naira in the last eight years through illegal deduction of one percent from their monthly federal statutory allocations by the Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, investigations by Nasarawa Eye has revealed.
Nasarawa Eye Investigations showed that the state’s Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs had been making mandatory, one percent deduction from monthly allocations to the 13 Local Government Councils in the name of “administrative charges” whenever such allocations are credited to the Local Governments joint accounts in the state.
Nasarawa Eye gathered that even with the financial autonomy granted to Local Government Councils across the country by the Mohammadu Buhari-led administration, the one percent “administrative charges” is still being deducted by the Ministry for Local government.
Experts contacted by this newspaper stated that there is no where in the Nigerian constitution where deduction of such administrative charges from Local Government governments’ statutory allocations from the Federation Accounts is stipulated.
It was reliably gathered that each month, the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in Nasarawa state deducts between N20 million and N40 million depending on the volume of money that accrue to the Local Government Councils from the federal government.
Nasarawa Eye sources revealed further that the one percent “administrative charges” goes to the pockets of individuals within and outside the ministry, thereby denying local government councils sufficient funds to execute their statutory responsibilities such as payment of salaries.
Similarly, our source in the Ministry of Local Government who asked not to be named, described the now disbanded Joint Account in Nasarawa state as a “rot and a conduit pipe for draining of local government funds” through illegal means and called for an independent body like the EFCC to conduct a probe; the source also accused the Local Government Audit of complicity in the scam.
Furthermore, Nasarawa Eye source also dismissed as untrue the N2.2 billion being claimed by the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy affairs as the total monthly salaries of Local Government workers in Nasarawa state, describing that amount as inflated.
“The truth of the matter is that It was not what accrues to the local government accounts from the federation accounts that were shared to the local governments at the time the Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) was operational”, our source added.
Our source further accused the Ministry of Local Government of embezzling over N2.4 billion in the operation of the Local Government joint accounts in Nasarawa state between July, August and September 2015. Similarly about N1.5 billion was siphoned from local governments’ pension/ gratuity remittance and another over N200million diverted from primary school teachers’ remittance, all from local government joint accounts in the state within the period under review.
The source who took Nasarawa Eye down memory line to demonstrate how rotten the ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs has become, cited the example of the three month period (July, August and September 2015) when the 13 Local Government Councils collectively received the sum of N5 billion from the Federation Account as statutory allocation. Within that period Nasarawa Eye gathered, same 13 Local Government Councils received as bail-out fund, the sum of N4billion bringing the total money which came into the coffers of the Local Government Joint Account within the period to N9 billion.
It was further gathered that within the same period ( July, August and September) Nasarawa State Local Government Joint Account disbursed as salary to Local Government Workers the sum of N6.6 billion at N2.2 billion per-month,leaving the balance of N2.4 billion unaccounted for.
Furthermore, Nasarawa Eye source again dismissed as untenable the claim by the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy affairs that salaries of Local Government workers in Nasarawa state is N2.2 billion per- month, noting that since there are deaths and retirements, salaries of Local Government workers cannot be N2.2 billion per-month.
On issue of bail-out fund, our source maintained that only part of it was shared while the balance disappeared into “thin air”.
“Here I will also like to challenge the Ministry for Local Government and chieftaincy Affairs to show to us the mandates on how N4 billion bail- out fund was shared among the 13 local governments councils in the state”
“Look let me tell you at that period, there was no any basis for the payment of salaries of local government workers in Nasarawa state in percentages”
Nasarawa Eye source further stressed that there were lots of fraud perpetrated when the local government joint accounts in Nasarawa state was operational. Citing another example, our source said that for teachers’ salaries alone, a total of N942, 436.331.29 was allocated by JAAC as monthly teachers’ salaries from January to July 2015, but the actual amount that went out as teachers’ salaries within the period was N908, 999.424; a sharp difference of N33, 436,901.39.
‘So if you multiply the difference of N33, 436,901.39 from January toJuly you will discover that government lost the sum of N234, 055,329.59 between January and July 2015 fraudulently through Local Government Joint Accounts’ our source further added.
Our source however, revealed that the case of teachers’ salaries was just a tip of the iceberg when compared to the discrepancies in local government pension remittance. Nasarawa Eye learnt that in 2015 alone, government released fully, the sum of N1.5 billion for the payment of pension and gratuity for local government retirees yet, not even one quarter of the retirees had their gratuity settled.
‘”Joint Account, let me repeat, when it was operational in Nasarawa state, was just a conduit pipe for draining of government money by some cronies within and outside the Ministry for Local Government
therefore; from whichever angle you look at it, the operation of the joint- account was a fraud”, our source concluded.
Efforts by the Nasarawa Eye to get a response from the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Yusuf Aliyu Turaki on these discoveries was unsuccessful as he was said not to be on seat when Nasarawa Eye called his office.

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