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CSO petitions EFCC, DSS, Tinubu over stolen N20bn Benue LGs funds

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CSO petitions EFCC, DSS, Tinubu over stolen N20bn Benue LGs funds

The Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN), a civil society organisation advocating for pro-democracy, anti-corruption, and justice sector reforms, has submitted a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The organisation is urging the EFCC to take action against Dennis Akura, the Special Adviser to Benue Governor Hyacinth Alia on Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, and others allegedly involved in the diversion of local government funds.

The petition, dated February 20, 2024, was officially received and acknowledged by the EFCC headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday.

In addition to the EFCC, copies of the petition were also sent to President Bola Tinubu, the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), and the media.

GICN, comprised of lawyers, private investigators, human rights activists, media professionals, and policy analysts, accused Akura and his cohorts of overseeing the embezzlement and diversion of over N20 billion from the Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) funds allocated to the 23 local government councils in Benue State between June and November 2023.

The organisation alleged that the Local Government Bureau, under Governor Alia’s administration, used its staff and affiliated private companies to siphon funds that were intended for the development and operations of the 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 allegedly become a conduit pipe for high level corrupt practices, massive fraud and other sundry offences which prompted its petition to the anti-graft commission.

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“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 documentary 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).

GICN 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 (allegedly) committed,” the petition read in part.

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