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N24 billion Abia infrastructure fund missing

By Boniface Okoro, Umuahia on 08/01/2013

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A N24 billion fraud has been uncovered in the Abia State Physical Planning and Infrastructural Development Fund (PPIDF).

A Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up to probe the affairs of the agency said the money was siphoned by individuals.

PPIDF is an agency set up by the state to beef up revenue for infrastructural development. It was established by Law No 28 of 1999 under the administration of Chief Orji Uzor Kalu. By the law, property owners are mandated to pay stipulated amount of money and the revenue so realised is to be channeled towards the provision of infrastructure by the state government.

Last year, the administration of Governor Theodore Orji dissolved the board of PPIDF and in its place, set up an interim management body while it also set up a Judicial Panel of Inquiry to look into the management of the agency since its inception.

The panel headed by Justice K.O. Wogu turned in its report yesterday to the governor with the startling revelation that the state lost a whopping N24 billion revenue through the agency by the estimation of the panel, an amount the governor said is equal to Abia’s seven months allocation from the Federation Account.

According to the panel, the state lost the sum of N19.292 billion from the inception of the agency in 1999 to last year. Also, the panel discovered that the agency was, between 2000 and January 2007, used by the immediate past government of the state to divert funds accruing to Abia from the monthly statutory allocation from the Federation Account to payments for undisclosed projects and other payments outside the contemplation of the enabling law, to the tune of about N4.2 billion, bringing the total revenue lost by the state between 1999 to 2012 to N23.492 billion

Presenting the panel’s report at the Government House, Umuahia, Justice Wogu pointed out that prior to the constitution of the pioneer Board of Trustees for the agency in 2009 chaired by Dr. Max Ndukwe Adindu, “the administration of the agency was an all comers’ affair and used for self and political aggrandizement.”
“To that end,” he said, “the observance of Law No 28 of 1999 which established the agency was more in the breach.”

Despite uncovering this fraud, the panel recommended a comprehensive audit of the PPIDF which, it hopes, would reveal the exact amount siphoned from the agency and all those involved. The panel also recommended that various persons refund about N80 million to government coffers.

Further recommendations by the panel include a review of the levy collection process and the attendant prosecution of defaulters to conform with modern-day tenets of democracy, constitutionalism, respect for human dignity and rule of law in order to restore public confidence and acceptance of the levy by Abians.

Justice Wogu disclosed that his panel’s report was in four volumes, disclosing that the panel received 21 memoranda, 103 exhibits while 30 persons appeared before it.

Receiving the report, Governor Orji lamented that money which should have been expended in the development of the state went into personal pockets, adding that Abia would have recorded more progress if the money had been injected into the development of the state.
The governor recalled that PPIDF was set up by the past government to raise money for the development of the state, saying he was at a loss that the reverse was the case as money realised by the agency went into private pockets. He assured that the panel’s recommendations would be implemented.

•Photo: Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State.

Source News Express

Posted 08/01/2013 09:16:42 AM

 

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