From EFCC custody, Fayose says Fayemi lied on N170b debt
Former Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose yesterday arrived at the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
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Former Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose yesterday insisted his administration did not commit the state to any financial institution in the form of bonds and commercial loans and described as false the claim that the state was bogged down by a N170 billion debt. The rebuttal followed Tuesday’s acceptance speech by his successor, Governor Kayode Fayemi, who alleged the last government set the state back by a huge financial obligation.
“Instead of lying so blatantly to cover up his impending failure, Fayemi should publish the Debt Management Office (DMO), Ekiti State Executive Council and House of Assembly approvals for the loans, since no loan can be taken without these approvals,” Fayose said in a statement by his spokesman, Lere Olayinka. He explained that the state’s indebtedness was under N60 billion and that the debt was either directly incurred during Fayemi’s first tenure or as a result of loans restructuring at the instance of the Federal Government and the Federal Economic Council.
He gave the breakdown as: commercial bank loan, N2,087,788,065.28; CBN’s grant for water project, N163,450,000; excess crude account-backed loan, N9,545,173,472.78; bailout, N9,083,761,215.40; FGN bonds, N18,226,699,707.18; state bonds, N3,484,469,345.51 and budget support, N16,869,000,000.He also challenged Fayemi to name the banks owed the N170 billion and disclose monthly repayment by the state government to such financial institutions. “He should not wait till 100 days to cook up false stories of how much debt was left by the Fayose administration. He should rather tell Nigerians how it is possible for a state indebted to the tune of N170 billion to be making N1.1 billion repayment monthly.”
The statement continued, “In September this year, Fayemi claimed that Ekiti’s debt was N117 billion. One month after, he said the debt was N170 billion. So, the debt increased from N117 billion to N170 billion in less than 30 days?“The reality is that Fayemi is reputed for speaking from both sides of his mouth. In the past, when Fayose assisted him to be governor, he described him (Fayose) as a honourable person whose word is always his bond. But today, he goes about denigrating the same Fayose.”
Urging Fayemi to face the task of governance and stop grandstanding, he said: “The Federal Government deliberately refused to release legitimate funds belonging to Ekiti State to the Fayose administration. And for this reason, the arrears of salaries could not be cleared as promised.“We are aware that in a matter of days, the withheld fund of over N30 billion is to be released to the state by the Federal Government as refund on federal roads construction, arrears of budget support and Paris Club refund. Our plea is that Governor Fayemi should stop making excuses and use the over N30 billion to pay workers’ salary.”
A pro-democracy group, Concerned Nigerians, meanwhile has urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to give Fayose the same treatment it gave a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal.“We are amazed that Lawal, who was accused of misappropriation of public funds, was summarily invited to the commission’s office and subsequently released without being charged to court or even spending a night in detention.
“It is therefore baffling that the former governor (Fayose), who voluntarily submitted himself to the commission for investigation, spent the night in an EFCC cell and is being detained arbitrarily, while the former SGF is walking free. We condemn, in its entirety, this sort of selective justice,” the group said in a statement by its convener, Deji Adeyanju, in Abuja yesterday.
Fayose’s legal counsel and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozhekome, told The Guardian via SMS yesterday: “His lawyers will take steps to enforce his fundamental rights.”The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), southwest, also criticised the EFCC over what it described as the unlawful detention of the former governor. Its spokesman, Ayo Fadaka, in a statement issued in Akure, Ondo State, said if Fayose is not charged to court immediately, it would prove that “the Buhari administration is merely using the EFCC to intimidate, harass and punish him unjustly.”
He added: “It will add to the long list of such petty vendetta that have been initiated, prosecuted and sustained by this administration against some Nigerians that are not in the good books of the president.”
Meanwhile, Fayemi kick-started governance on a good note when he announced yesterday, the scrapping of Ekiti’s education development levy, saying education would henceforth be free in all public primary and secondary schools. Describing the levy as an aberration, he said government would not put extra burden on parents already traumatised by the harsh economy and the previous administration’s failure to pay salaries.
Fayose turned himself in Tuesday to answer questions on the alleged receipt of N1.2 billion from a former national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki, through a former minister of state for defence, Musiliu Obanikoro. The money was allegedly given to him in the lead-up to the 2014 governorship election in Ekiti State.
But an EFCC source told The Guardian: “We asked him (Fayose) about the money he received from Obanikoro and when he would return it but he is denying everything. He said in his statement on oath that he never received any money despite the overwhelming evidence. The man is refusing to cooperate despite the overwhelming evidence we have.”