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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Benue Probe; How Suswam Govt Paid N2b Shares’ Proceeds Into Bureau de Change Account’

The Benue State Judicial Commission of Enquiry probing financial transactions by the Gabriel Suswam administration has said the former government paid N2 billion proceeds of its shares in construction giant Julius Berger Plc into the account of a bureau de change.

Governor Samuel Ortom set up the panel to probe the former administration’s handling of the state’s finances and alleged mismanagement of public funds.
The Justice Elizabeth Kpojime-led panel is mandated to probe the funds and receipts accrued to the state from 2007 to 2015 and examine the sale and lease of government property since then till date.
It is also to ascertain the state’s allocations from the Federation Account, local government funds, bonds and loans, excess crude accounts, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) account, the Subsidy Reinvestment Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) funds, the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Testifying yesterday before the panel in Makurdi, the state capital, the city’s Branch Manager of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr Emmanuel Ebere, said the account belong to Fan Fact Resources, a sole signatory, Mr Abubakar Umar.
Ebere said Umar of Plot 2249 in Zone 4, Abuja is a bureau de change businessman and the company’s sole owner.
The banker said Umar, whose home address was said to be at Kuje, Abuja, reportedly operated the account at Zenith Bank’s Algeria Street branch in Abuja.
It was learnt that at the handing over of its reports, the Transition Committee alleged that government officials did not follow the rules and regulations governing business conducts in the company.
The chairman of the transition committee, Mr Mike Iordye, regretted that Suswam directed the sale of the government’s shares in Julius Berger but allegedly diverted the funds.
He said: “In 2014, M/S Elixir Securities was given the mandate, by Suswam, through the immediate past commissioner, to sell N10 billion worth of stocks.
“A total of N8.4 billion stocks were sold but out of this, the committee found that N5.3 billion was paid into a Zenith account, which was later found to be an expenditure account for the Ministry of Finance.
“The other N2 billion paid into another Zenith account did not belong either to the Ministry of Finance or any agency of state government; all efforts to trace the owners of the account failed.”
Ebere tendered details of the accounts’ transactions and were admitted in evidence.
Justice Kpojime adjourned till next week for continuation of the hearing.

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