Kogi Governor Bello reacts to PREMIUM TIMES report, says funds not squandered

The Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, has reacted to a PREMIUM TIMES investigative report detailing how he spent N260 million days after he was sworn into office.
Mr. Bello, who reacted through his Chief Press Secretary, Kingsley Fanwo, described the report as “libelous,” but did not deny that the funds were drawn.
In a statement signed by Mr. Fanwo, the governor said PREMIUM TIMES’ investigation into the spendings was “a clear abuse of the right to information.” He claimed that this newspaper erred when it said the money was squandered.

“The use of the word ‘squander’, as far as I am concerned, is a clear abuse of the right to information. Every dime spent by the governor can be accounted for,” Mr. Fanwo said.
He, however, refused to provide details of how the funds were used.
Mr. Fanwo said the governor drew the funds to tackle security challenges in the state which he said was a “hotbed” for criminals for over a decade due to its strategic location.
“It is a public knowledge that Kogi State has been contending with serious security breach for the past ten years,” he said.
“Because of the location of the state as gateway to many states of the federation, the state drifted into a criminal hotbed.”
He explained that he took shelter in his private residence for weeks after he assumed office due to the poor state he met Lugard Government House, Lokoja, saying he used part of the funds to renovate his official residence.
“The award of contract to renovate the Government House was justifiable. Weeks after his inauguration, Governor Yahaya Bello was operating from his home because the Government House wasn’t conducive. The award was to renovate Government House and not his personal house.”
“If you have ever been to the Kogi State Government House in Lokoja, you will appreciate the rot of the architecture. It was not befitting of one of the most historic government houses in Nigeria. In tandem with the present administration’s drive to turn the economy of the state to a private sector driven one, we need to start our charity at home. People must love to come to our Government House to transact businesses.”
EXCLUSIVE: How Kogi Governor, Bello, squandered over N260 million ‘security vote’ days after assuming office
Mr. Fanwo said the governor was committed to fighting corruption and enabling transparency in his administration.
“Let me also put on record that the Governor Yahaya Bello administration is contractually committed to fighting corruption and enthroning transparency in the polity. These are the terms of his social contract with the Kogi people,” his spokesperson said.
PREMIUM TIMES had on Friday published an exclusive story that detailed how Mr. Bello, appropriated over N260 million to himself shortly after assuming office on January 27.
The report showed that on Mr. Bello’s first day in office, the Permanent Secretary in the Government House, Ilemona John, initiated a memo titled, “Request For Security Fund”.
In the document, Mr. Bello was requested to approve N15 million as his security fund.
He approved the payment of the fund two days later, on January 29.
The Government House Permanent Secretary raised yet another memo just four days later on February 2, with a fresh request for security fund. This time, the amount was jerked to N20 million.
The governor did not waste time as he gave prompt approval for the release of the funds on the same day.
It however became apparent that the money was not enough because Mr. John again raised another memo for the release of more security funds the following day, February 3.
In the new memo, Mr. Bello was requested to approve the “release of the sum of Five Million naira (N5, 000,000, 00) only for the replenishment of your Excellency’s security fund which has just been exhausted.”
Mr. Bello granted approval immediately.
Not done, the permanent secretary who is a Reverend Pastor, quickly returned with another request on the same day (February 3, 2016) seeking Mr. Bello to release another “N20 million for the replenishment of his security fund which has just been exhausted.”
The governor did not hesitate to give the approval for the release of the funds.
Five days later, on February 8, the Permanent Secretary, again initiated a memo indicating that Mr. Bello’s security fund had yet again been exhausted and sought approval for N100 million to be released to “replenish” it.
Governor Bello granted approval the following day, February 9.
A few hours later on February 9, Mr. John raised another memo informing his principal that the security fund he approved hours earlier had been exhausted and that he needed to approve another N100 Million.
Mr. Bello readily granted approval on the same day.
PREMIUM TIMES cannot say exactly how much has so far been spent as security funds, but documents obtained so far indicate that between January 27 and May 12, Kogi State taxpayers could have coughed out billions to their governor.


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