Reps summon Gov. Alia’s Aide, others over missing N20bn Benue LG funds

By Chris Udochukwu

The House of Representatives has summoned the Special Adviser to the Benue State Governor on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Dennis Akura and others, for interrogation over alleged embezzlement of 20 billion naira belonging to the 23 local government councils of the state.

Other persons to appear before the House with Akura are, the Directors-General Services and Administration (DGSAs) in the 23 local governments of Benue State, Cashiers and other key staff of the Benue State Government who will answer questions bordering on gross abuse of office and massive fraud.

Governor Hyacinth Alia’s Special Adviser, Akura and the others will be quizzed by the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions on Tuesday, 5th March, 2024 over the reported missing N20bn local government funds.

The letter summoning the LG Bureau Adviser and the others read that the petition will be heard and determined in their absence if they fail to honour the invitation on Tuesday.

“Whereas the above named petition is now pending before this Committee and the particulars aforesaid are already within your knowledge, and whereas, the petition has been assigned to be heard by the Committee for determination.

“YOU ARE HEREBY required to note Sections 88 and 89 (e) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and appear in person before this Committee on Tuesday, 5th March, 2024 at 2.00pm or so soon thereafter as the Committee shall direct.

“AND FURTHER TAKE NOTICE that if you do not attend the hearing as required, the case may be heard or determined in your absence”, the letter read.

The summon of Governor Alia’s Special Adviser by the House followed a petition brought to it by a pro-democracy, anti-corruption civil society organization, Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN).

The group had written to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Department of State Services (DSS), as well as the National Assembly, demanding that the Special Adviser to the Governor Hyacinth Alia on Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Akura and others be arrested, interrogated and prosecuted for alleged diversion of local government funds.

In the said petition also sent to President Bola Tinubu, GICN, a group made up of lawyers, private investigators, human rights activists, media professionals and policy analysts, accused Akura 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 government councils in the state.

“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 the House, security agencies and anti corruption agencies, to ensure that Akura and others fingered in the petition are brought to justice and made to account for their actions.

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