The House Of Assembly In Niger State Has Passed A Motion Mandating The Governor To Constitute Commission Of Inquiry To Probe Finances Of The State From 2007
Niger State House of Assembly has empowered Governor Abubakar Sani Bello to set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the entire financial transactions of former Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu’s eight-year administration. It would be recalled that Dr. Aliyu carried out a similar investigation against his predecessor, Engr. Abdulkhadir Kure in 2007. The report of the investigation was eventually thrown out.
The Assembly’s decision followed a motion during plenary by member representing Bida II, Hon Mohammed Haruna, who based his submission on allegation that the incumbent administration inherited an empty treasury.
He alleged that at the moment the state is carrying heavy debt burden incurred by the past government and with nothing to show for it. According to him, the state was almost bankrupt and often finds it difficult to pay workers salaries and run effectively which may likely hamper the speedy progress of the state.
He alleged that the Aliyu administration ruined the economy of the state, leaving behind a backlog of unpaid teachers and local government workers’ salaries. “If there are relevant provisions of our laws that empower us to check and correct the defects and not to allow business as usual, then our refusal to exercise such powers may be tantamount to compromising our cardinal responsibilities as representatives of our various constituencies,” he submitted.
Hon. Haruna emphasised that section 128(1) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) gave the Assembly power to direct an inquiry into any matter, or thing ,with respect to which it has powers to make laws, adding that, “the Governor of Niger State was empowered to by the provisions of Section 2 (1) of Commission of Inquiry Law to set up a Commission of Inquiry in order to check the conduct of any officer of the state”.
Most members who spoke on the matter, supported the motion as Hon. Abdullahi A Mamagi, member representing Gbako constituency said the people expected that the new government, on coming into office, will swing into action in finding out what happened in the past so as to reprimand those who erred.
He said they would not want to see the government look like a new wine in old wineskin of which he alleged that almost all the projects in the state were uncompleted and abandoned while accusing the past administration of using pension money as collateral to secure bonds. “The past administration used part of pension money as collateral to obtain bonds. The way and manner this government is handling this matter is not in the satisfaction of Nigerlites,” he said.
Mamagi said the Assembly was not witch hunting anybody, adding “but the resources of four million people pilfered must be returned. We want proper commission of inquiry, we don’t want any plea bargain, we want an inquiry and those found culpable be thrown into jail”.
In a swift reaction however, the PDP state secretary, Alhaji Aminu Yusuf said as long as the conduct of the inquiry commission would be conducted in a just, fair and transparent manner, the party was not afraid. He said the party would urge its members who served the state to honour the panel when constituted. “There is no fear, no fear at all.
Why should we be afraid? All we know is that we cannot just be arrested and thrown into jail without trial or without facing the panel. We will honour the panel and explain whatever we know,” he said.
The member representing Agaie constituency and Deputy Speaker, Hon Hussaini Ibrahim said the Commission of Inquiry would unravel what has been hidden and its affairs will be conducted in open and in a transparent manner. Speaker of the Assembly, Hon. Ahmed Marafa, passed the motion and directed the Assembly Clerk to forward the resolution to the Governor for gazzetting and implementation.
-Iliya Garba Minna