Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi has directed the state Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) to recover over N120 million allegedly embezzled by the state Programme Coordinator of FADAMA III project.
Umahi gave the directive on Wednesday in Abakaiki during a virtual state Executive Council meeting.
He gave the commission one week to recover the fund from the coordinator in the state, Dr Cletus Nwakpu.
The governor directed the commission to either report the matter to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or prosecute Nwakpu, should he fail to refund the funds within the stipulated period.
“This should be in accordance with the laws guiding the commission and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) should get somebody to act as the Head of the FADAMA III project.
“He should also evaluate whether we can rejig the programme in the state, even if we can borrow money to offset the counterpart fund in order to help the people.”
Umahi said that the commission was independent of any arm of government in the state and directed the state Head of Service (HoS) to immediately suspend Nwakpu as a civil servant.
He also directed that other necessary disciplinary actions be instituted against him.
The SSG, Dr Kenneth Ugbala, while presenting the report of the commission’s investigation on Nwakpu, disclosed that he was accused of fraud and financial irregularities in a petition against him.
“The petition was written by Mr Mathew Nweze and Elijah Joseph of the state FADAMA Cooperative Society Limited on February 10.
“Investigations by FRC revealed that Nwakpu directed the opening of an account with the name, Ebonyi FADAMA Production Beneficiaries Clusters, with himself as a signatory.
“Funds, which were contributed by farmers for 2017 FADAMA III project, were deposited in the account and this runs contrary to the financial regulations guiding the project.
“Nwakpu did not release the complete agricultural inputs to the farmers, which they paid for, and has failed to refund the money to the farmers,” the report added.
The report further indicated that Nwakpu allegedly directed some staff of FADAMA III office to collect N90 million from the farmers in cash, contrary to the provision that payments should be made into their group accounts.
“The regulations and guidelines for procurement of agricultural input, capacity building, selection of service providers, among others for 2017-2019 FADAMA project was not complied with by Nwakpu,” Ugbala said.
The report also indicated that Nwakpu could not account for over N120 million he spent and recommended that he be suspended from office, among other sanctions.
Speaking with newsmen at the end of the meeting, the HoS, Dr Chamberlain Nwele, said that the governor had replaced the Auditor-General, Mr Innocent Nweda, who was suspended on July 13.
“The former state auditor-general has been replaced by Mr Akah Udu, while the Auditor-General for Local Government, Mr George Ukpai, has been replaced by Mrs Pauline Alobu.
Efforts made by NAN to get the reactions of Dr Cletus Nwakpu were unsuccessful as he did not respond to several telephone calls made to him. (NAN)