The Justice Elizabeth Kpojime Commission of Inquiry, which resumed sitting at the Makurdi High Court Four on Wednesday, said the Benue State Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs paid N18.7bn meant for primary school teachers’ salaries into an unknown account with First Bank in Makurdi.
Testifying before the commission, the Permanent Secretary of the Bureau, Mr. Emmanuel Ikpe, who could not give a satisfactory explanation on the identity of the owner of the bank account, appealed to the commission to invite the former Special Adviser of the Bureau during the period under investigation, Mr. Solomon Wombo, and the then Permanent Secretary, Mr. Asen Sambe, to give the required clarifications.
He said N1.8bn monthly salaries of primary school teachers owed between October 2013 and June 2014, was lodged in the fixed deposit account number 1017993231 with First Bank. Ikpe admitted that the Bureau made payments between January and May, 2015 to the tune of N18.7bn into the unknown account at First Bank, Makurdi, adding that officials of the bank refused to give the Bureau details of the account when the Director of Finance and Administration approached its officials.
When the Commission demanded to know who from the Bureau made the payment of N4.6bn in May and N5bn in June last year among others, Ikpe said the then Accountant, Mr. Isaiah Ipevnor, and Sambe, who was the accounting officer, were in the best position to explain.
On why N3.4m was being paid monthly by the Bureau to a contractor, Ameh Technology, Ikpe explained that the Bureau had entered into a contractual agreement with the company for the supply and maintenance of generators in the 23 local government areas of the state.
He however stated that since he became the Permanent Secretary, the money had not been paid to the contractor and the Bureau was thinking of terminating the contract so that if any local government needed such a service, it would request for it.
When Kpojime also demanded to know why Ashitech, Ashifood and Akpo Integrated Limited were being paid between N40m and N45m monthly, the Permanent Secretary requested for time to enable him to look into the records and furnish the commission with details. Kpojime adjourned the sitting to enable Ikpe to continue with his testimony on Friday (today) and Thursday next week and to enable him to tender some documents requested.