RE: MY PURPORTED REMOVAL FROM OFFICE AS EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN ETSAKO WEST LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA BY THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF EDO STATE, HIS EXCELLENCY MR GODWIN OBASEKI.
My attention has been drawn to the unfortunate statements credited to His Excellency, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the Executive Governor of Edo State, in the Nigeria Observer of Thursday 24thOctober, 2019 during the illegal swearing-in of the Vice Chairman to take over the affairs of Etsako West Local Government, where he proclaimed my removal from office on trump up allegations of fraudulent activities and incapacity to manage the affairs of the Local Government by my humble self.
Much as it is not in my character to join issues with those that declared themselves as my adversaries in the media space, it has become expedient to rescind this posture in the wake of the baseless, unfair and deliberate attempt to smear my hard earned personality and reputation orchestrated by political expediency to get rid of me because of their concerns over my likely political disposition in the struggle for them to retain relevance and emerge victorious at all cost in the forthcoming APC primaries next year.
In the circumstance, I wish to address the reasons adduced for my purported sack from office, with a view to sensitize the public about the malicious act of the Governor, at the clear instance of his Deputy, Rt Hon. Philip Shaibu, who has never hidden his discontentment at my emergence as the Executive Chairman of our Local Government Area, against his preferred candidate Alhaji Inusa Imonofi, my Vice Chairman, who has been illegally sworn-in as the Executive Chairman
The Governor’s statement allege that his decision to sack me from office is predicated upon the recommendation of a State Panel of Inquiry to the effect that I am involved in a N46m fraud that occurred in the Local Government and that I lack the capacity to manage the affairs of the Local Government.
These claims are not only spurious, unfortunate, and unfounded, they are least expected of a supposed civilized and exposed personae like the Governor, whose acclaimed wealth of experience in both the private and public sectors should make him know better than to toll the line of personal vendetta at the instance of his over ambitious Deputy, Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu, who will stop at nothing to remain in the corridors of power.
In order to put things in proper perspective, it is pertinent to raise the following questions so that the general public will have a clear understanding of the true situation and judge for themselves if the Governor has acted in good fate;
i. How on earth can the state Government, through its kangaroo Panel of Inquiry indict me of fraud in a matter that I brought to the fore, after my attention was drawn to it by officers of the Finance and Treasury department of the Local Government?
ii. How can I be indicted for fraud, when the actual culprits- Mr. Danjuma Saliu Abdulahiand his girlfriend, who have confessed to the crime and have been arraigned at the High Court, Auchi were actually arrested at the Government House Security post and their case referred to the State Criminal Investigation Department of the State Police Command at my instance?
iii. How can the State Governor say that I employed the chief culprit of the fraud, Mr. Danjuma Saliu Abdulahi, when indeed my administration neither sought for approval to employ anybody nor employed anyone under any guise in an already over staffed Local Government? Is it that the Governor is ill-informed on this matter or the statement was to give credence to his malicious attempt to tie me to the fraud at all cost?
iv. How can I be accused of fraud, when the Local Government at my instance communicated the Information Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) on our findings in this regard and demanded that the agency make a refund of the lost sums,since it was in-charge of generating the Local Government payrolls and uploading of staff salaries through relevant bank schedules, which copies were never given to the Local Government.
v. How can I be said to be incompetent in the management of the affairs of the Local Government, when upon the expository I immediately informed the then Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Barr. Jimoh Ijegbai, who requested that I stay action in reporting the matter to the Governor, with a view to allow the Ministry investigate and report their findings to His Excellency since a State Government Agency (ICTA) is in the middle of the storm.
vi. How can the Governor and his kangaroo Panel of Inquiry allege that the fraud was possible because I was negligent in the performance of my duties, when indeed it is not within my official purview to assign schedule of duties to staff of the Local Government? Is it that His Excellency, the Executive Governor, is ignorant of this fact or he choose to play to the gallery of his prodigies in their struggle to append my name to the crime?
vii. How can I be accused of bloating the salaries of the Local Government to the extent that it is more than that of Oredo Local Government, when Etsako West had over 800 staff strength as against Oredo’s over 600 staff strength? Is there anyway Etsako West Local Government wage bill could have been less than that of Oredo Local Government in this regard, especially when the state owned ICTA is in-charge of salary preparation and payment, as well as the agency considered as fraud proof?
viii. How can it be said that I was negligent of my duties when at my instance the Executive Committee of the Local Government constituted a Panel of Inquiry to investigate the fraud, in line with the provisions of Chapter 8 of the Financial Memorandum?
ix. Is it not out of place for the Governor to assent to the recommendation for my suspension from office by Barr. Jimoh Ijegbai, the then Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs and a known prodigy of the Deputy Governor, without recourse to at worst a query that would have enable me explain myself?
x. Would the Governor take responsibility for a similar case at the state level, when there are designated officers entrusted with the responsibility to supervise the activities of the respective Ministries, Departments and Agencies under his leadership? Would such act translate to incompetence and the Governor described as negligent and culpable?
xi. Why would the kangaroo Panel find it convenient to recommend my sack from office, but shield the Managing Director of the ICTA, an appointee of the Governor for the fraud perpetuated by a staff of the Local Government in connivance with one BayodeLucky, a staff of the ICTA?
xii. Is it normal for a Panel of Inquiry to investigate a matter of this nature without availing me the fundamental right of fair hearing before concluding and recommending my sack from office?
In the light of the fore-going, it is instructional to state as follow;
i. that my resolve to abide by the initial unjustified two months suspension order, though clearly misplaced, was geared towards allowing the state government actually investigate the matter because a clear conscience fears no accusation.
ii. that the State Government did not constitute a Panel of Inquiry within the two monthssuspension to ascertain the veracity of my involvement or otherwise, but decided to do that after the two months had elapsed. This is an indication that the Panel of Inquiry only became necessary for them to accomplish the wish of my adversaries in the face of nothing to indict nor suspend me from office ab-initio.
iii. that the outcome of the State Government of Inquiry was programmed to indict me ab-inito, hence I was neither informed of the existence of the Panel of inquiry, nor invited to appear before it or given fair hearing.
iv. that the action of the State Governor is, apart from massaging the ego of his Deputy, geared towards concealing the inadequacies of the over glorified Information Communication Technology Agency (ICTA), where the fraud was perfected, from public knowledge and condemnation. Who knows how many other Local Government funds have been lost through the criminal activities within the agency?
v. that the action of the State Government is glaringly connected to their worries over my perceived affiliation to the National Chairman of our great party (APC), His Excellency, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, hence the caption of their news item “RE: 46M FRAUD; OSHIOMHOLE’S LGA CHAIRMAN REMOVED, VICE-CHAIRMAN SWORN-IN”. Every sane mind would wonder the rationale behind their attempt to smear the good name of the APC National Chairman in a salary fraud that occurred in Etsako West Local Government, being his home. If not for their deformative tendencies, it will only have been normal to tag the news “PHILIP SHAIBU’S LGA CHAIRMAN REMOVED…..” since Shaibu is from the same Local Government and being the state deputy governor.
vi. that I am not ignorant of my fundamental rights to seek redress in a competent court of jurisdiction to redeem my image, reclaim my mandate to the people of Etsako West Local Government Area, who willingly voted me to serve them for three years tenure.
While thanking concerned Nigerians for their show of compassion and solidarity in my quest to stand firm and seek justice on this matter, I wish to use this medium to appeal to my teeming supporters to eschew any act inimical to the peace of Etsako West Local Government Area, as justice shall surely come our way in no distant time.
Hon.(Chief) Musa Yakubu