The Zamfara state chapter of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) said the state government, through its Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, has hijacked the federal statutory allocation due to the 14 councils for June.
The council chairs who said the state government was still maintaining the outlawed state/local governments’ joint account, also claimed N5million was given to each local government from the allocation.
Spokesman of the association and Chairman, Maradun local government council, Alhaji Ahmad Abubakar Maradun, said this Monday at a press conference in Gusau, the state capital.
He said the current guidelines by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the National Financial Intelligence Unit, in a strong term clarified that all the 774 local government councils of Nigeria must get their statutory allocations direct from the CBN.
It also said the NFIU guidelines abolished the state and local governments’ joint account.
They said the action taken by the PDP-led administration in the state was against democracy and laws of the land.
The council chairs further said if the state government failed to abide by the NFIU guidelines and release their funds, the association would take legal action against the state government.
Maradum said: “We will not condone any form of hijacking of our allocation by the state government in the name of local government joint account system; and any attempt made by the state government to short-change us, we will go to court of law to seek redress.”
It further accused the state government, through its Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs of approving only N5 million to each of the 14 local government councils as their June allocation despite the fact that their money was sent intact from the federal statutory allocation.
“We’ve been invited by the state Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs for a meeting regarding our June allocation. But it is very unfortunate the official of the ministry told us that only N5 million can be given to each local government as its statutory allocation for the month of June without telling us how the remaining funds would be spent,” ALGON also said.
The association therefore called on the federal government; through the CBN and NFIU to as a matter of urgency intervene in the matter so they could have access to their funds to enable them meet the yearnings and aspirations of their people who gave them their mandates.
State govt threatens legal action
But the state government said the council chairmen’s action was meant to embarrass the state government and slow down its developmental stride of the Mutawalle administration.
Director General, Press Affairs to the Governor, Malam Yusuf Idris, said the allegation was baseless as it’s aimed at disrupting the good policies and programmes of the present administration in the state.
On the issue of N5 million to be given to each local government out of their June allocation as alleged by the ALGON, Yusuf refuted their allegation, saying the governor was ready to abide by the federal government’s policies and programmes, particularly on the issue of local and state governments’ joint account for the development of the state’s socio-economic potentials.
“The state government, through its Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, today summoned all the 14 local government chairmen for a meeting regarding their June allocation as usual.
“But unfortunately, these council chairmen didn’t even stay to discuss this issue. So, as far as the state government is concerned, we will also take legal action against them for the progress of our dear state,” Yusuf said.
Among other things, the guidelines said: “The NFIU requests all financial institutions, other relevant stakeholders, public servants and the entire citizenry to ensure full compliance with the provisions of the guidelines already submitted to financial institutions and relevant enforcement agencies including full enforcement of corresponding sanctions against violations from 1st June, 2019.
“Having realised through analysis that cash withdrawal and transactions from the State Joint Local Government Accounts (SJLGA), poses biggest corruption, money laundering and security threats at the grassroots levels and to the entire financial system and the country as a whole, decided to uphold the full provisions of section 162 (6) (8)of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended which designated ” State Joint Local Government Account into which shall be paid allocations to the local government councils of the state from the federation account and from the government of the state.”
Similarly, NFIU spokesman, Malam Sani Tukur, reportedly said any bank that connives with the governors would be dealt with.
“Any bank that connives with governors or local government chairmen to breach the directives will face the necessary sanctions.
“For instance, if you (as a bank) deliberately allows the withdrawal of let’s say N100million, you may be sanctioned to the tune of that amount; you may be made to forfeit that same amount of money to the (federal) government.
“Or, if there is a threat to the international financial system on account of a transaction, the international financial system can sanction the bank concerned instead of Nigeria as a whole.”
“We deal with banks and other financial institutions. The guidelines we released are generally for banks not to allow such to happen.
“If they connive with governors to allow that to happen, they will be sanctioned. If the governors also withdraw that money, we will get the records and if it is discovered that a transaction was used for money laundering or other sundry activities, which contravene the guidelines, intelligence can be shared and used by other relevant security agencies for necessary action,” the agency further said.