Fear Grip Governors, Ex-governors Over EFCC’s Probe Of N432.5b Ecological Funds
Afraid of being probed for alleged embezzlement of N432,502.466,521 Ecological Funds, many governors have inundated the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with enquiries on their fate.
It was learnt that they sought to know those to be probed and for which period.
Already, the EFCC has started tracking the funds remitted to the states. There were indications yesterday that the commission might release the list of the states being investigated or invite top officials connected with the disbursement of the Funds.
Investigation revealed that about N432.5 billion was paid into the Ecological Funds between 2007 and 2015. About N48,055,829,613 were paid into the funds yearly.
It was gathered that about N245,721,482,473 was allegedly wasted by some governors between 2011 and 2015.
Preliminary finding by the EFCC and Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) indicated that the Ecological Funds were diverted to other use by many of the ex-governors.
Some of the states, where some past governors and acting governors are under probe are: Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kogi, Enugu, Delta, Cross River, Plateau, Benue, Jigawa, Ondo, Sokoto and Abia.
Former Plateau State Governor Joshua Dariye, a senator, is being prosecuted by the EFCC for alleged mismanagement of N1.2billion Ecological cash.
Serving governors are also being watched by the EFCC over how they use the Fund.
The agency has received a petition against Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose over the N2billion Ecological Funds allocated to his state.
Some of the governors and their predecessors allegedly used the funds for personal projects, political campaign, augmentation of revenue allocation following drop in oil prices, award of bogus projects to cronies for money laundering, purchase of official vehicles, acquisition of choice properties.
A source in the EFCC said: “We are looking into the management of Ecological Funds by some governors and ex-governors but I cannot give you the details until we have completed the investigation.
“We have received some petitions but it is too early to make any disclosures. Only a former governor is standing trial at present for alleged mismanagement of Ecological Funds and the revelations in court are there for you.
“I know that the commission has been receiving enquiries from some governors on whether we are looking into the management of Ecological Funds. It is not within our mandate to disclose what we are doing or who we are probing.”
A recent report by Ford Foundation in conjunction with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting said in part: “So unmindful was the government of the essence of setting aside funds to deal with ecological problems that the state even borrowed money from the Ecological Funds Office to finance shortfalls in its appropriation. Between 2009 and 2011, the federal government withdrew about N94 billion from the N141.5 billion that accrued to the Fund to finance its budget deficit.
The Nigerian Air Force was in 2007 given N10 billion from the Fund as loan, although it completely repaid it in the same year, according to the report.
“Consequently, NEITI called for a comprehensive audit of the Fund from inception to date.
“Investigations across the country show that the funds released for projects are characterized by mismanagement, diversion of funds, substandard and abandoned projects fully paid for while the threats of ecological problems continue to wreak havoc, sometimes taking lives.
“In many cases, projects costing billions of naira were certified completed by government engineers and other officials when, as investigations showed, the projects had either been abandoned or left uncompleted. Yet, money had been fully paid to the contractor, indicating a possible collusion between greedy and unpatriotic officials and contractors.
Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, and Gombe – several projects that were listed by the EFO as completed and fully paid for were in reality either uncompleted or shoddily done while some could not be located, meaning that they probably do not exist.
“Baraza and Kardam in Bauchi State villagers were shocked to hear that their villages benefitted from over N400 million contracts for the construction of erosion control projects in 2007. The contract, valued at N442,379,368, was awarded to Anbeez Services Limited and was expected to be completed in 2008. It was for four villages, Baraza, Kardam and Bazil in Dass Local Government Area and Rimin Zayam in Toro Local Government Area.
In 1985, the Federal Government established an Inter-Ministerial Committee (the National Committee on Ecological problems (NCEP) with the responsibility of advising the President on the disbursement and management of the Ecological Funds.
In 1999, the Obasanjo administration re-organised and expanded the NCEP and made Minister for Special Duties its chairman
In December 2006, it was reorganised, bringing slight modifications to the membership of NCEP due to re-alignment of federal ministries. Minister of the Environment was then made its chairman.