Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
The Ebonyi State Government has ordered commercial banks transacting business with it to release its bank statements from 2007 to September 2018. This followed findings by the state’s Accountant General, Mrs Queen Agwu, and her team that some of the banks allegedly deducted monies from the state’s account illegally.
Mrs Agwu disclosed this at the Exco Chambers, Government House, Abakaliki, during a press briefing on the outcome of the day’s Executive Council Meeting.
She said: “We discovered from the inception of Ebonyi State, the banks charge whatever they liked in the name of commission, withholding tax, and other chargeable. Very often, they take whatever they want to take.
“Moreover, when the government takes a loan or overdraft from a bank and the money is fully refunded, the banks would keep making deductions. All these piled up.
“I discovered as the Accountant General that my predecessor tried to see if he could recover some of these funds but to me, it seemed that the political willpower wasn’t there.
“We discovered, immediately this administration came on board, that there were monies hanging here and there in the hands of banks. There were over deductions, over charges, over refunds of all sorts.
“So, the government engaged a team of consultants. They worked out from 2007 to 2016 and some part of 2017 and reasonable money was discovered which the banks were supposed to refund to us”, she said.
But instead of paying back the money, the Accountant General alleged that the affected banks transferred bank managers to other states in order to frustrate the repayment plan. She appealed to the banks to comply otherwise the state would take legal steps to recover its monies.
“Government is asking the banks to please provide us with all banks statements, all correspondences, all agreements and documents that has to do with funds transactions between the government and the banks from 2007-September 2018.
“The banks should provide us with every document because if they don’t provide us with these documents, henceforth it will no longer be tolerable”, she said. Also speaking, the Commissioner for Finance, Obinna Nwachukwu, while fielding questions from newsmen clarified that demanding the documents from banks does not imply investigating the past administration in the state.