PAUL OMOKUVIE, Bauchi
Bauchi state governor, Bala Mohammed, has alleged that his predecessor, Mohammed Abubakar, spent N2.3 billion to buy materials on burial of dead bodies in the state.
Mohammed who spoke through his spokesperson, Dr. Ladan Salihu, in an interview with newsmen in Bauchi, said that the funds were spent between January and May, 2019.
He said that over N900 million was spent on white cloth materials used for wrapping dead bodies while over N1.4 billion was used to buy the wood for lacing the graves after burial.
According to him, the government discovered issues of corruption, venality, daylight robbery of the commonwealth of Bauchi State, adding that billions of naira were syphoned illegally.
Ladan alleged that: “These monies which ought to have been appropriated by the Assembly before expenditure, all of a sudden emanated from our treasury books. How could you imagine that a state government, within five months, that is between January and May, 2019, spent well over N2.3 billion on funeral materials, the clothes that are used in clothing dead bodies and the woods that you lace the graveyards with?
“The immediate past government spent N2.3 billion, that government did not spend quarter of that amount in our own hospitals and clinics. They have the temerity to want to put up a show of shame.”
Asked if the state government has any prove to substantiate its claim, he said there is no iota of doubt on this matter saying that there are documental evidences to prove that.
“All these are captured in the report of the Transition Committee and these were gathered from documents and vouchers and payments made from our treasury books. There is the Freedom of Information law; go there and find out for yourself from those documents.
“We are talking about the principle behind it. You have bought these materials for funerals in graveyards, what have you done to the Christian cemetery? But we are saying that it is wrong completely, it is not the duty of government to buy burial materials for anybody. It is the responsibility of the family, the community and people of goodwill. It has never existed in our history books that government bought those materials in the first place.
“So, you know that these things were bought for a reason, you would not see the materials, because they have disappeared into or out of ballot boxes,” he said.
The governor’s spokesman vowed that the state government would use every instrument of the law including petitioning the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other offences Commission and other anti-corruption agencies on the matter, until every kobo “stolen” was returned.
Ladan vowed that: “Government will take very, very stern measures; we will recover every kobo that has been looted or stolen by the immediate past administration and in fact, the administration before it. Where it is established that there is a clear case of misappropriation or outright stealing of public funds, it’s an obligation, you don’t allow criminality to run roughshod on the rest of us because these are public funds.
“We must take steps, there’s no factor of fear or favour or ill will; it is just the way the business of government must be conducted.
“We will take every measure, we will use every institution and go after everyone that has stolen Bauchi State’s money. We will pursue this case in the relevant institutions of recovery whether it is EFCC, ICPC, the constitution of a Special Recovery Mechanism within the state; I can assure you, we will pursue these issues vigorously, rigorously and without let.”
When contacted, Ali M. Ali, the media aide to former the outgone governor said he was not aware of such allegation.
Ali said: “I’ve not heard of anything like that so I will speak on it when I make my findings; but this is laughable. I will get back to you on that when I have done my findings.”
He was yet to get back to our correspondent 24 hours after he was first contacted on the matter.