By Balkis Tijani.
Fingered in alleged illegal payment of N400m to members of the Kwara State House of Assembly and State Executive Council members ahead of their exit from office, the Secretary to the State Government, Sola Isiaka Gold and the Clerk of the State House of Assembly, Kperogi Halimat Jummai are being investigated by the Ilorin Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission who insists due process wasn’t followed.
In a statement issued by the EFCC yesterday, the agency stated that:
“It was gathered that all the 25 lawmakers and some members of the State Executive Council, two weeks ago, received about N400 million severance gratuity before the expiration of their tenure despite the fact that the State is owing workers about three months salaries.
“The petitioner said even though the Lawmakers and members of the State Executive Council are entitled to severance payment, it was the next administration that was supposed to pay the money.
“It was further alleged that the State Government, with selfish intent, swiftly paid the money before the expiration of their terms.
“More worrisome was the issue of furniture allowance running into hundreds of millions of naira according to the petitioner, which they wanted paid along with severance gratuity.”
Referencing a letter reportedly written by the Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly to the state governor, the anti-graft agency hinted that the Speaker emphasized that the Lawmakers were entitled to severance packages at the end of their tenure which is due on June 7, 2019.
The letter read in part, reads: “In accordance with the provisions of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Honourable Members are entitled to 200 percent of their annual basic salaries as their severance gratuity allowance at the end of their tenure of Office.’”
The EFCC further disclosed that Ms. Kperogi, the Assembly Clerk also confirmed to the Commission that the Lawmakers have received their severance packages which was approved by Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed.
According to the EFCC, the Assembly Clerk, Ms. Kperogi, was quoted as saying, “In a meeting of the Principal Officers of the Kwara House of Assembly wherein (Ms. Kperogi) I am scheduled to be the Secretary, held on 8th of May 2019, issue of severance gratuity to the honourable members was raised, the principal officers were informed that the state governor has approved the payment of the severance gratuity.
“At the meeting, I (Ms. Kperogi) informed the House that His Excellency (Governor Ahmed) had approved the payment, adding that members were expected to be paid after the expiration of their tenure of Office. The House debated it and they overruled me.”
The EFCC also said that the SSG, Sola Isiaka Gold, wrote and sought for the approval of the severance gratuity and furniture allowances amounting to about N300 million of some members of the State Executive Council.
“In a letter to the State Governor, dated May 8, 2019, Gold said: ‘Your Excellency, by virtue of the provisions of Kwara State remuneration of political and Public Office holders law, certain category of political and public office holders are entitled to severance and furniture allowances of their basic salaries respectively upon successful completion of tenure.’”
The store keeper of the State is being interrogated as at the time of this report, the EFCC said.