Governors sue EFCC over probe of security vote

Ibrahim Magu

The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) has engaged the services of lawyers to challenge the probe of states’ security votes by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The commission had recently initiated a process to probe Benue state Governor Samuel Ortom’s security votes, drawing the wrath of the state chief executives.

Governor Badaru confirmed to correspondents in response to a question while briefing on the outcome of Thursday’s meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential villa, Abuja.

He said the issue had been discussed by the governors in their meeting under the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) in Abuja on Wednesday night, saying that the lawyers had been instructed to investigate the case.

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State had in an address to the people state recently disclosed that the anti-graft body was trying to probe the state’s security vote following his defection from the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The governor had urged the

EFCC, to start the probe of security vote from the Presidency if the anti-graft agency was not after him for dumping the APC.

The chairman of the NGF and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, had earlier revealed to reporters that the forum deliberated on anti-graft agencies’ handling of the war on corruption in the country and resolved that they must adhere strictly on due process rather than engage in illegalities.

The governor told journalists after NGF’s meeting on Wednesday night that the forum members affirmed their support for the present administration’s effort to curtail corruption but warned that they are not comfortable with some of the actions taken by the nation’s anti-corruption agencies.

Speaking against the backdrop of the freezing of Akwa Ibom and Benue states government accounts by the EFCC, Yari told reporters after the meeting that even President Muhammadu Buhari will not support the illegalities perpetrated by the agencies.

He said: “We believe strongly that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari will not sit down and supervise this illegality in the system.

“What we are saying is that we all support the government to fight corruption because it is endemic and has suffered the nation for over six decades. Definitely, it was part of what we discussed.

“What we are saying now is that we are going to support the government in terms of what it is doing to fight corruption, but the due process must be respected in whatever action the agencies are going to take in the name of fighting corruption.”

The NGF chairman also spoke on the ongoing negotiation for a new national minimum wage saying that the governors want the national income to be examined over the last 14 years so that its exact position can be determined.

He regretted that states government have been limited to only the payment of salaries and unable to take care of development responsibilities in other sectors such as health, electricity, education, among others.

According to him, the governments have no magic to meet the expectations of the people if they do not have the required funds.

Yari said on minimum wage: “We have a committee of six which represented us in discussions in the committee headed by Labour minister. The committee is yet to give us the final report.

When they give us the final report, for which they have our mandate to present our position, and the position most likely is to look at the record of up to 14 years.

“For instance, in global practice, in your income, how much are you spending as salary? So that we can start from there.

They have given us the interim report, that at the of the federal government level, over 82 per cent is being spent on overhead which cannot move the country forward in terms of infrastructure development and development that we need now.

“So, on our own part, we are saying we are going to look at how our income is trained from our final account from 14 years ago so that we can come up and stay in the middle.

“I don’t think you people voted us for only to pay salaries. You are looking for good roads, electricity, education and others. So, we can’t do magic. It’s only when we have the funds do all those things.”

Tribune

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