Delta Commissioner Fingered In Multi Million Naira 'Settlement ' Scandal
…It’s all lies, Says Safugha
SAN FRANCISCO, July 16, (THEWILL) – This is definitely not the best of times for the Delta State Commissioner of Local Government Affairs, Mr. Newworld Safugha, as he is presently enmeshed in an alleged multimillion naira bribery scandal .
The Commissioner, it was gathered, allegedly operates a kickback racket in his Ministry with some Heads of Personnel Management (HPMs) and Councils Chairmen in the State allegedly providing cover for the fraudulent dealings.
Impeccable source in the Ministry alleged that the Commissioner collects certain amount of money from the HPMs as ‘settlement’ in connivance with the Councils Transition Committee Chairmen, who deduct such money from their Councils’ monthly allocation.
It was learnt that the Commissioner had made it mandatory for the Councils to remit the said amount every month since he supervises the disbursement of allocations to the various councils in the state.
A council official who craved anonymity accused the Commissioner of sending bogus and frivolous seminar proposals and other circulars for projects to be sponsored by the councils in order to extort money from them.
A council chairmen alleged that the Commissioner had been reported to the governor but nothing had been done about it.
“There are several cases of reported corruption and frauds on officials but still nothing is done about it. So, instead, we had no option than to play along with the commissioner. If you confront him, he will deny but the fact is that we that are involved know that he collects percentage from the monthly allocation that comes to the councils.
“We are not surprised at all because everybody in the state is aware that Commissioner Safugha, the state former Publicity Secretary of the Peter Nwoboshi -led state PDP executive was among the state party executive that extorted millions of naira from councils chairmen sometime in 2010 in the name of projects inspection across the 25 Local Government Councils.
"Also, he was the one who paved the way for the state PDP chairman to grab some fraudulent contracts of supplying earthmoving equipment to the councils sometime ago which generated series of controversy across the state. And that is the background Safugha came from,” the council chairman alleged.
Also, a HPM who did not want his name in print disclosed that before the inauguration of council’s Transition Committee Chairmen last year, when HPMs were overseeing the councils, a similar act of racketing was allegedly perpetrated by the then Chairman of Local Government Service Commission, Ms. Nkem Okuofor, who allegedly was always collecting kickback from HPMs across the state.
Reacting to the allegation, however, during a Ministerial briefing at the Government House, Asaba, the Commissioner said nothing of such exists, though he admitted that his directorate is in charge of disbursement of allocations from the Federation Account to all the Local Government Councils as prepared by the office of the Accountant General/Permanent Secretary .
On the controversial and moribund N300 million cassava processing plant executed by former Council Chairman, Chief Askia Ogieh, which the Isoko South Council authority is still funding despite the fact that the plant is moribund, Safugha said “Nothing is wrong if the place is still being funded, “ adding “it’s a good thing.”