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Ebonyi House freezes joint LG, state accounts

By The Citizen
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The recent peace bolster in Ebonyi State may have broken down as the state House of Assembly, yesterday, froze the joint accounts, JAC, for the state and local government areas operated by the present administration.

The House resolved that any bank collaborating with the state government to divert funds meant for the development of the state would be blacklisted from carrying out any transaction with the incoming administration as the affected banks would be meant to face the wrath of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC.

It also raised alarm over the level of fraud and financial misappropriation going on in the local government system and the unchecked expenditure by the state government without any due process.

It further stopped the state government from selling forms and allocating shops to the people of the state at  Ebonyi State International Market when the project had not been fully completed and commissioned for use.

It was not clear if the reconciliation between the out-going state governor, Dr. Martin Elechi had with the governor- elect, Chief Umeahi has broken down, as all efforts by TheCitizen to reach both sides of the camp before press time were abortive.

Meanwhile, the Ebonyi State Governor, Chief Martin Elechi yesterday, said the State House of Assembly has no power to freeze the accounts of local governments, development centres or any other agencies of government.

The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Dr. Onyekachi Eni, while reacting to the purported freezing of local government accounts and stoppage of allocation of shops at the international market, said such powers reside with the executive arm of government.

Eni stated that only a court of law with competent jurisdiction could order the freezing of any account of government or persons, saying that the resolution of the House being outside the range of its powers, was ultra vires and without effect.

He urged the local governments and development centres to ignore the resolution and carry on with their lawful business of service delivery to the people. On the sale of forms for allocation of stalls at the international market, Eni said the House lacked the powers to stop the ongoing sale of forms for allocation of the market, saying that Governor Elechi's administration initiated the construction of the market in 2009 and had invested N18.3 billion in the development of the state.

He said: 'The House of Assembly, apart from stalling the accessing of the loan from capital market,  is now seeking to stop the state government from generating funds from the completed stalls in the market to invest in the uncompleted ones. We wonder whether the House is for the progress of the state or it's retrogression. Ebonyi people and all persons of good will should judge for themselves.'

On the alleged repeal of the codified Laws of Ebonyi State 2009, the governor's spokesman said the draft report was forwarded to and passed by the House before it was signed into law by the governor, adding that all these procedures were contained in a chapter of the codified law 2009, which has been in force since then.

'Apart from the fact that the House failed to follow appropriate procedures in seeking to repeal the law, we are also alarmed at the haste with which the House pursued the repeal at the first reading, second reading, committee consideration, third reading and repeal pronouncement were all done in less than two hours of the House' business.'

We, therefore, hold that the repeal is not procedural, it's unlawful and of no effect,' he said.

'Apart from the fact that the resolutions passed by the House have no force of law, we further note that there are pending suits before the federal High Court challenging the capacity and legality of the House to sit and conduct any business given the announced vacation of the seats of some members of the Assembly which reduces the number to less than 24 and renders the House inoperable going by section 91of the constitution of Nigeria' Eni stated.