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N5b SURE-P fund: Plateau lawmakers probe Jang for alleged misappropriation

By The Citizen
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The Plateau State House of Assembly has launched a probe on the whereabouts of over N5 billion suspected to be missing from the government's account.

The said N5 billion was the state's share of the subsidy reinvestment programme known as SURE-P fund received by the Governor Jonah Jang-led administration from January 2012 till date.

The probe, according to the legislators, became necessary following public outcry alleging that the funds may have been misappropriated by the state government, coupled with the fact that the programme has not taken off in Plateau in spite of monthly disbursement of funds to the state for that sake.

Speaker of the House, John Clark Dabwan, in reaction to the public outcry, promptly set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the whereabouts of the SURE-P funds.

The eight-man panel of the House chaired by Dalyop Mancha, while submitting its report, expressed displeasure over the alleged refusal of the state government officials who appeared before it to disclose details of the bank accounts of the SURE-P funds.

The committee applauded the Commissioner for Finance, Davou Mang, who confirmed before the panel that the state receives N218 million monthly, beginning from January 2012, as its share of the SURE-P fund from the Federal Government. The accumulated sum received by the state government so far is over N3 billion.

The ad hoc committee also found out that the state government has been receiving N146 million monthly on behalf of its 17 local councils from January 2012 accumulating to over N2 billion till date.

The state and local governments' share of the SURE-P funds, as confirmed by the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Dr. Paul Wai, as well as the state ALGON chairman, Emmanuel Loman, has been channeled to the state government through the normal federation account committee (FAC) on monthly basis.

The state and local governments' share received so far has been put at over N5 billion.

Chairman of the ad-hoc committee lamented that in spite of several requests made by the panel, the Commissioner for Finance and the state Accountant General, Mr. Boyi Sauka, both failed to let the committee into the details of the account.

He said: 'The government officials, who appeared before us, claimed that the said fund has not been misappropriated by the state government and that the fund is intact, but they however, failed to provide us with the bank's statement and detail of transactions to substantiate their claims.

'The committee also reports with sadness the failure of federal, zonal and state coordinators of SURE-P to appear before it. The committee, however, confirmed that the SURE-P coordinators used to report to the Commissioner for Finance and state Accountant General. The committee, therefore, recommended that the only way to show transparency in the management of the SURE-P account is for the state government, through its Commissioner for Finance and state Accountant General, to be compelled to make the bank statements available for the House to enable the lawmakers appropriate the fund accordingly.'

Dabwan said: 'We plead for the understanding of the executive on this issue. People who elected us are worried that SURE-P programme is running in other states of the federation, but nothing is happening in Plateau. So, we plead with relevant government agents to feed us with all that is required so that we can report to the people of our constituencies because we are talking of public fund here.'

The Speaker commended his colleagues, who served in the ad hoc committee for a job well done. He referred the report to relevant standing committee of the House to continue the investigation.