Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State on Wednesday denied having any knowledge about the move by the state’s House of Assembly to impeach his deputy, Elder Simon Achuba.
With just few weeks to the November 16 governorship election in the state, both Achuba and his boss have been engaging in media war over issues relating to his benefits and governance in the state.
Achuba had also last week accused the state government of withholding his salaries and that of his aides amounting to N819.7 million. He also said the last time he was paid was in 2017.
However, the state government described his allegations as false, claiming his salaries have been paid till July 2019.
It also dared him to go to court if he desires.
The matter took a new turn on Wednesday when the lawmakers of Kogi State House of Assembly began impeachment process against Achuba.
The impeachment notice was read by the majority leader of the House, Abdullahi Bello on the floor of the Assembly.
The Assembly members accused Achuba of criminal indulgence, financial misappropriation and non-performance in office.
Bello announced that 21 out of the 25 lawmakers signed the petition against Achuba and described his offences as gross misconduct in office.
He cited section 188 of the 1999 constitution and thereafter asked the Assembly to commence the process towards the impeachment of the deputy governor.
The speaker, Kolawole Matthew, agreed to the lawmakers’ petition and ordered that a notice be served on the deputy governor. Matthew asked Achuba to respond to the allegations within 14 days.
While some have claimed that the governor may have sponsored the move, Governor Bello said he doesn’t have a hand in it as the matter is a purely a legislative affair.
Speaking through Kingsley Fanwo, his Director-General on Media and Publicity, the governor also said as a democrat, he will not interfere in the duties of the Assembly as they are an independent arm of government.
“The governor doesn’t have a hand in the move by the House of Assembly to begin impeachment process against the deputy governor. It is purely a legislative affair. As a democrat and believer in the rule of law, the governor will not interfere in their legislative duties” he said.
Speaking with our correspondent on Wednesday, the embattled deputy governor said he fell out with his boss because he was demanding for good governance.
He claimed that on several occasions he had to plead, beg and prostrate for Bello on the need to change his leadership style so that the citizens could feel the impact of good governance promised by the APC during electioneering.
While alleging gross mismanagement in the finances of the state, he said Kogi State cannot survive another four years under Governor Bello’s rule.
“The rift between me and the governor is all about the issue of performance and the infighting between him and perceived enemies”, he said.
He also accused the governor of failing to account for N53.8 billion funds the state received between 2016 and last year.
Documents made available to Daily Independent by Achuba indicated that the amount consisted of unaccounted receipts from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
The documents showed that Kogi State government received a total of N104. 239 billion within the three-year period under reference.
However, only N50.455 billion was received by the Joint Account Allocation Committee (which is supposed to share funds between the state government and the local councils), leaving a shortfall of N53.783 billion.
The breakdown showed that in 2016, the state got N26,146,999,320.62 but only N9,297,742,330.72 was paid into the JAAC, leaving a shortfall of N16,849,256,989.88.
Similarly, in 2017, the state received N34,549,400,031.71 but only N20,152,671,103.51 got into the JAAC, leaving N14,396,728,928.20 unaccounted for.
Last year, the state received N43,543,198, 591.44 from FAAC but paid only N21,005,459,434.58 into the JAAC, leaving a shortfall of N22,537,739,156.86.
The document also revealed how a separate N4 billion was allegedly siphoned from the public treasury through the governor’s cronies.
It indicated that Kogi State government engaged the services of a consulting firm for purposes of revenue automation and management, as well as creation of tax payers’ data base.
The document showed that the consulting firm partnered an IT solution company for the automation, while a new generation bank was made the bank for revenue collection in the state.
The consulting firm applied and secured a loan facility to the tune of N4 billion from the bank for the automation of internally generated revenue process of the state, repayable within eighteen months from Kogi State IGR account.
The document contained irregularities as the N4 billion loan amount was credited to the consulting firm’s account in the same bank on June 23, 2017. However, N3.9 billion was subsequently transferred to KGSG IGR Lead Account same day. The same funds were moved that same day to KGSG/JAAC and then supposedly disbursed to all the 21 local government areas.
However, the funds said to have been transferred to the LGs were withdrawn in cash, an indication that it must have been taken out of the system fraudulently.
Responding to the claim, Fanwo said the deputy governor has been recruited by the enemies of the state government to cause distraction ahead of the governorship election.
“Elder Simon Achuba has been recruited by the enemies of Kogi State and All Progressives Congress (APC) for a hatchet job that is headed for doom”.