The Ibadan zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has started a probe into the activities of 33 former local government caretaker chairmen in Oyo State while in office.
The anti-graft agencyis also probing the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters and the state government on allegations bordering on abuse of office and stealing.
It was learnt that the probe followed a petition written to the EFCC regarding the alleged diversion of over N363m.
The petitioner alleged that a few days before the 2015 presidential election, the chairmen in connivance with some state government officials shared the money.
It was further alleged that between March 23 and March 25, 2015, N11m was approved by the Local Government Stabilisation Account for each of the 33 local government areas of the state.
The money was said to have been withdrawn in cash by the various caretaker chairmen and allegedly handed over to the then chairman of the state branch of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria.
A source at the EFCC said, “We have been able to establish a prima facie case against some Oyo State Government officials, including the 33 caretaker chairmen. We believe the funds were meant for the 2015 election.
“We will soon arrest those found culpable.”
One of the former caretaker council chairmen said that he was told that the money was meant to prevent Boko Haram’s possible attack during or after the election.
He confirmed that he had been invited by the EFCC to state what he knew about the money.
The ex-council boss said, “We were told that there was a security report that Boko Haram could strike in the state during or after the election and that each of the council areas should contribute N11m and hand it over to the ALGON chairman so that the anti-terrorist activity, for which the money was meant to be coordinated centrally.
“From the amount, N10m was actually deposited to the ALGON chairman, while N1m was in the hands of each council chairman for logistics in the councils. I heard that three councils could not raise the money, while some chairmen refused to deposit their own because they were afraid that it could be diverted for election purposes. I have been invited by the EFCC and I have stated what I know about the whole issue.”
Asked if the chairmen knew how the money was eventually spent, the ex-council boss said the impression he had was that it was spent for the purpose.
He said, “How would I know the way the money was spent when I was told that the anti-terrorist activity would be centrally coordinated?