The Executive Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, yesterday inaugurated a seven-man Judicial Commission of Inquiry to “probe, investigate, and recover misappropriated public funds, lost or diverted government properties, failed contracts and the existence of ghost workers by previous administrations in the state, between 29th May, 2003 and 27th January, 2016.
According to a press statement by the Secretary to the Government of Kogi State, Dr. (Mrs.) Ayode Folashade Arike, the Governor’s decision was in fulfilment of his promise to “clampdown on corruption and bring perpetrators to book.” This, the statement reads, is in exercise of the powers conferred him by Section 2 of the Commission of Inquiry Law Cap 25 of the Laws of Northern Nigeria 1963 (as applicable to Kogi State), and other relevant laws enabling thereto.
The Commissioners approved to by the Governor to act on the Commission are:
1. Justice Wada Umar Rano – Chairman
2. Dr. Mohammed Aboki
3. Barr. Ameh Franklin Adejoh
4. Prof. Angela O. Okatahi
5. Chief J.O. Ajewole
6. Maj. Gen. H.G. Aminu (rtd)
7. Mrs Fatima Ojochenemi Audu
The statement also confirmed the appointment of Barr. Ajinomoh Pemida as Secretary to the Commission, while J.B. Dauda will serve as Counsel to the Commission.
The Commission’s terms of reference include:
1. Collating a comprehensive and updated list of contracts awarded by previous administrations in Kogi State between the period under review
2. The names of companies of all companies and business names involved in the above specified contracts awarded and their company directors and/or proprietors and owners
3. The personal names of companies of all contractors, either local or expatriates, involved in all contracts awarded by previous administrations between the period under review and their business addresses both within Nigeria and abroad.
4. Determine whether contracts awarded by Kogi State Government between the period under review to individuals or corporate organisations were in accordance with due process, and/or were in accordance with contract agreement.
5. The contract sum of each project, the amount actually paid to the contractor, and the percentage of work done. Identify where contracts were executed contrary to agreement as a result of which government lost money, recover such money and make appropriate recommendations for such case.
The Commission has 12 weeks to complete its assignment.
In his speech at the inauguration, Governor Bello charged the Commissioners to be fair and incorruptible. He asked them to maintain their integrity and fearlessness throughout the assignment. The Governor compared Kogi State’s history and development to Dubai’s, concluding that the state has been underserved.
“Kogi State was created on 27th August, 1991 – a little over 25 years ago. 25 years ago, Dubai was a desert settlement in the middle of nowhere. Today, Dubai is a global megalopolis hosting some of the most advanced man-made technology and infrastructure on Planet Earth. Kogi State, on the other hand, still ranks low on the global development map, along with the rest of Nigeria,” he said.
“Dubai did not start out with significantly more resources than Kogi State, except perhaps the honesty and patriotism of their human resources. While the leaders of Dubai got creative about changing their society for good, ours became exponentially proficient in short-changing their people in the worst ways possible.
“In this time and age, it is unbelievable that we are still grappling with lack of every conceivable public infrastructure, unpaid salaries, benefits, pensions, gratuities, unpaid contractors, unfunded projects, inability to meet counterpart funding obligations to Development and other partners, to mention but a few.
“That conclusion would be a total fallacy, for the simple reason that our previous leaders did not account properly for the money that we did get. While I am not saying that our state has made or received all the money she needs, I make bold to insist that our problem is not the LACK of money, but the THEFT of money. If what we did make or receive were used better this past 13 years, we would not have the current socioeconomic disaster on our hands.
“We too must put our dirty linen out in the public, albeit in a controlled environment like the scrutiny of a Commission such as this one, subject it to cycles of cleansing in the washing machine of truth and bring out the stronger fabrics and brighter colors of a thriving society.
“I pray for wisdom, knowledge and understanding from Almighty God to rest on the Chairman, My Lord, Honorable Justice Wada Umar Rano (RTD) and on each member of this Commission of Inquiry and to make them both fearless and forthright in the performance of their duties.”