– The Ayo Fayose-governed Ekiti says the constitution restricts the senate from probing how bailout funds granted the state to settle salary arrears were spent
– The state government states that although it appreciates the intentions of the federal lawmakers, it would not open its books to the Senate due to constitutional impediments
The Ekiti state government has rejected plans by the Senate to probe how bailout funds granted the state to settle salary arrears by the federal government were spent.
The Ayo Fayose-governed Ekiti citing the sections of the constitution said Nigeria’s federal system does not give the Senate the constitutional power to exercise oversight over finances of the states, Premium Times reports.
The state government stance was in reaction to a letter sent by the Senate committee on state and local government administration led by Gumel Abubakar (APC-Jigawa) to some states, including Ekiti, since November 3, telling them its intention to probe how the funds were disbursed.
In his letter, Mr. Abubakar told the governors that President Muhammadu Buhari had expressed his worry to the National Assembly on the application of bailouts granted to some states; and consequently, Senate President Bukola Saraki directed his committee to conduct oversight on the disbursement of salary bailouts.
“Your Excellency, it is based on this directive that the committee will undertake a tour of all states that have benefited from bailout with the view to oversight records of transactions for the salary bailout grant,” the Senate wrote.
But Ekiti in a November 11 letter signed by the state’s attorney general and commissioner for Justice, Owoseni Ajayi, received on November 14, faulted the plan by the Senate.
Ajayi said although Ekiti appreciated the intentions of the federal lawmakers, the government would not open its books to the Senate due to constitutional barriers.
The letter read in part: “It is incontrovertible that the duty of oversight of government’s financial activities by the legislative arm in Nigeria is a constitutional matter and the diligent performance of this duty in a time like this, when our nation is in economic recession, cannot be overemphasised.
“We therefore appreciate the intentions and aspirations of the National Assembly in the above regard, which, we have no doubt, are aimed at ensuring fiscal discipline, financial integrity, accountability and probity of government and its relevant agencies at all levels.
“However, we respectfully wish to observe that we are constrained, as a state government bound by the principles of federalism and the rule of law, to accede to your proposal to exercise oversight powers over the disbursement of the bailout granted to Ekiti State by the Federal Government because it is legally and constitutionally outside the powers of the Senate of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“In this regard, we wish to draw your attention to the clear provisions of Sections 121, 122, 123, 124, 125 and 125 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), which vests the powers of oversight functions in respect of states’ finances exclusively in the respective state Houses of Assembly.”
Upon assumption of office, President Muhammadu Buhari had disbursed to states bailout funds to end the lingering and back-breaking burden of unpaid workers’ salaries in several states of the country.
However April 22, anti-graft agency, ICPC, released a report, detailing how the states diverted the bailout funds.
The alleged diversion of the funds by state governors has seen workers being owed several months of wages even after funds to offset their pay was released by the federal government.
Meanwhile, the allegations that Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti state was involved in serious money laundering is gradually gaining momentum as another witness has testified against him.
Reports credited to Vanguard have it that Alade-Oluseye Sunday, one of the witnesses in the on-going trial of Abiodun Agbele, a close ally of Governor Fayose stated that he paid the money into various accounts (Fayose’s inclusive) according to instructions from the defendant.
Sunday, who manages the Akure branch of Zenith Bank, made this confession to Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a federal high court, Abuja.
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