The efforts by the federal governmennt to have local governments take control of their funds seems to have been aborted by Ogun state as the Ogun State chapter of the Association for Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) has accused Governor Dapo Abiodun of spending funds belonging to the 20 Local Governments of the State without the ‘sign off’ of the elected Chairmen.
This allegation was contained in a statement jointly signed by the trio of Hon. Kunle Folarin, the Chairman; Alhaji Rasaq Adeagbo, Ogun West Senatorial Chairman and Hon. Femi Kafaru, Ogun East Senatorial Chairman.
The eighth Ogun State House of Assembly, under the leadership of former Speaker, Suraj Adekunbi, had on May 3, 2019 issued a resolution suspending all political functionaries at the 20 Local Government Areas and 37 Local Council Development Areas.
Acting on the resolution, the State Governor, Abiodun, froze all LGs and LCDAs’ accounts in Ogun, while the Chairmen were also asked to submit their Bank Verification Numbers BVN).
DAILY POST learnt that the accounts have since been unfrozen as the LGs and LCDAs are currently been run by the Heads of Local Government Administrations (HOLGA).
Therefore, the Chairmen in their statement, said they had informed the Ogun State House of Assembly during a meeting on Tuesday that they had not gotten any grant or allocation from the government of Abiodun since he took over on May 29.
The Chairmen also alleged that “all spendings on the LG and LCDA bank accounts in the last two months are being authorised by Gov. Dapo Abiodun without the sign off of the elected LG and LCDA Chairmen.”
It would be recalled that the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) had warned state governors not to tamper with local governments’ funds again.
The NFIU said that in consonance with the 1999 constitution, no debit would be allowed on any local government funds with effect from June 1, 2019 until the money was credited to the receiving local government.
The agency said the decision was taken to protect local government allocations while promising to deal with individuals, banks or companies abetting the diversion of local government funds.
One of the suspended LG Chairmen, who spoke with DAILY POST anonymously said the governor had flouted the NFIU regulations by approving funds belonging to the LGs and LCDAs.
The suspended LG boss said “it will be illegal for Gov Abiodun to spend any money from LG account, and nobody can do so without the chairmen signing off, because we are still the democratically elected Chairmen till October 20, 2019.”
He, however, said the governor had paid their May and June salaries, despite their suspension.
Meanwhile the LG and LCDA Chairmen have dragged Gov Abiodun and the state House of Assembly before an Abeokuta Federal High Court, asking it to declare their suspension “unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.”
Counsel to the suspended council officials, Monday Ubani, stated that, “having unsuccessfully explored several avenues to make Ogun State Government and House Assembly to reverse their suspension, the only option left for them is to approach the court.”
They are also demanding for the sum of N500m as damages for the infringement on their fundamental rights.
Meanwhile, efforts to get Gov Abiodun’s reactions to the suspended LG and LCDA Chairmen’s allegations through his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, have been unsuccessful as he did not reply messages sent to him.