Imo Govt Keeps Mute On Alleged Mismanagement of N95bn LGA Fund


In view of the recovery program of the Imo State government under Senator Hope Uzodinma administration, concern is being raised over the continued silence surrounding a report which revealed how funds of the 27 Local Government Areas in the state was allegedly mismanaged.
Recall that the office of the Auditor-General for Local Government, Local Govt Audit Headquarters had after looking at the final statements and report of the Imo State Joint Account Allocation Committee, JAAC of the Bureau for local government and chieftaincy affairs for year 2019, had in the report raised mind boggling questions about how not less than ninety five billion naira was spent.
In a document Trumpeta obtained where the Auditor General for the LGA in a letter to the Permanent Secretary, Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, State Secretary, Owerri dated 30th April 2020, and titled “Audit Inspection Report of Imo State Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) for the period 1st January 2019 to 31st December 2019, there were several observations arising from the audit report on how the total fund available N95,553,367.45 was used.
The report opened up several issues related to how the fund made available to the LGAs was spent which the auditors on several instances asked the officials of the Bureau led by the Permanent Secretary to account for how it was spent.
For instance in page 45 of the report paper, it states that “ the sum of One Billion Hundred and fifteen million naira (1,215,000,000,00) only was paid to the management Director WALL House WA Ltd for the supply of CAT certified road construction equipment” with details stated on the report paper.
The report from the Auditor General of the LGAs regarding the One Billion naira contract for the construction equipment however states “Examination of the payment vouchers revealed that there were no evidences of contract agreement memorandum of understanding, local purchase orders, SIV,SRV, or any other document in relation to the procurement attached, moreover, the type, nature and number of the construction equipment procured was not disclosed and the purported earth moving equipment were not delivered to any local government council nor seen anywhere. In view of the above, the total sum of N1,215,000,000,00 purportedly expended on these purchases would appear doubtful, fictitious, fraudlent and therefore disallowed and recoverable”.
According to the report, the permanent secretary and Director of Accounts (names withheld who were in charge of the disbursement were caused to recover the full amount from MD of WALLS House W.A Ltd.
Further revelations  contained in the reports dated 30th April 2020 pointed out alleged massive fraud arising from “Irregular Returns or Kick Back from Local Government Councils to Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs”  as well as irregular cash withdrawals. The report states further “Examination of the financial records revealed that the local governments were mandated to raise cheques in advance and remitted the above stated sum to the Bureau for local governments and chieftaincy affairs within the period of Sept to December 2019 into Zenith Bank accounts” therefore the auditors caused the Perm Sec and Accounts Director to give account for the funds lodge into the account totally N2,404,925,079,03, same for about N120 million withdrawn by cash by the cashier and Bureau for LGA Accounts Director which raises suspicious.
Furthermore, the report alleged cases of payment for no existent service, expenditure without payment vouchers, irregular funding of agencies contrary to the provisions of Joint Account Allocation Committee JACLAW, irregular Bank charges and payment of Govt House Security for the month of December 2019.
The report further exposed alleged fictitious payments running into several million naira by the Bureau, settlement of arrears of salaries to councilors under Ohakim, supply of customized wrapper, irregular supply of vehicles which the officials incharge were accused of negligence of duty and caused to provide reasons for such actions.
Also, the Perm Sec, Director of Accounts of the Bureau in the report were questioned on irregular transfer of N27m to ALGON office Abuja without relevant proofs, several cases of various irregular jobs, purchase and services totaling one billion nine hundred sixty nine million nine hundred and sixty seven thousand naira including irregular payments (Financial Assistance and Medical Bills to the tune of N17m.
The Audit report signed by 1.1 Ofoha for Auditor General for local governments, Imo State requested the officials concerned to comment on the points raised in the report which was to be forwarded to the Auditor General for LGAs within 60 days and same to the chairman, Public Accounts Committee of the Imo State House of Assembly.
Trumpeta notes that nothing has been heard about the outcome of the report further investigations and attempts to recover the money even as the officials involved are said to be in service of the state government.