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INTRIGUES AT KSPDC, BAKO IN EYES OF THE STORM

By NBF News
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Gov. Patrick Yakowa
KSDPC is the acronym for Kaduna State Development and Property Company, a limited liability company, charged primarily to provide affordable houses for the state's teeming population.

But rather than concentrate on that function, the place has in the last one year been enmeshed in crisis of confidence, orchestrated by both staff and management of the company. This is owing to the alleged move by KSPDC managing director/ chief executive officer, Jofas Bako, to want to appropriate the company to himself.

The confrontation started after two senior management staff of the company (names witheld), were suspended for allegedly embezzling N9, 689, 530.13, belonging to the company. It was gathered that their suspension followed their admittance of guilt in their responses to queries dated September 11, 2009 and September 10, 2009, respectively, obtained by Daily Sun.

The two officials were said to have connived with some officials of a new generation bank on Yakubu Gowon Way, Kaduna, to perpetrate the act between July 1, 2009 and August 10, 2009. That was the time Bako took over as the MD. In the memo by the Audit Department to the MD, dated August 30, 2009, and signed by the Senior Audit Manager, Emmanuel Makuryetinim, it was stated that 'in the cause of our normal routine checks, we discovered that the total sum of N7.4 million has been illegally withdrawn. Further inquest revealed that the said sum was withdrawn without due approval from neither the managing director/chief executive nor any supporting document as prescribed by the financial regulations of the organization. The amount was withdrawn within the month of July 1, 2009 and August 10, 2009.'

Daily Sun learnt that the company constituted a committee which included one of the alleged culprits to investigate the scandal. It was discovered that the actual amount is N9, 689, 530.13 and not N7. 4 million. In a query signed by Bako, dated September 9, 2009, titled 'Illegal withdrawals/financial gross misconduct and embezzlement,' to the two senior staff, the CEO requested the officers to explain why they should not be punished for their act.

Reacting to the query, one of the alleged culprits said: 'I am in support of your administration and will never be a party to sabotage it. That you should temper justice with mercy and allow the refund of the amount agreed. I am sorry for whatever this must have caused. I am sorry for not replying within 24 hours.' The second alleged culprits argued that the said illegal amount withdrawn could not be up to N9, 689, 530.13, adding that the amount involved as quoted in the query letter included salary and other deductions payments for the month of July 2009.

He was however quick to add that 'I am ready to make refund of whatever amount that would be arrived at by the investigation assigned to us being illegal withdrawals to avoid any punitive measures against me, I will make necessary refunds. I beg you in the name of God to render justice with mercy not to take any administrative or legal action against me.'

The matter was reported to the then Commissioner for Works. This action attracted series of petitions against Bako from both staff and management of the company, including the State House of Assembly. In one of the petitions, titled: 'Complaint against some fundamental corporate deficiencies in KSDPC,' and signed by five very senior management staff of the company, Bako was accused of denying other management staff access to him, and that he had abandoned the core mandate of the company.

In his reply, Bako said 'it is my fervent desire that by replying your letter, you will now see clearly and also understand the style of administration of the MD. It is hoped that you would come to terms with the MD, so as to finally close ranks for the betterment of KSDPC and the state in general.'

But rather than close ranks, the gulf widened, as the junior staff joined the fray by given a 21-day ultimatum to the management to concede to its demands or face industrial action. However, the Kaduna branch of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), waded into the matter. But the trouble was not over yet for Bako. He was again faced with what one of his associates described as an 'avalanche of sponsored stories and articles,' in some local papers 'just to malign his person,' which made him to complain to the state council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).

The matter snowballed into a suit filed at the Ibrahim Taiwo Road Magistrate Court, Kaduna, before Senior Magistrate Joyce Kaka. Counsel to the complainant, Sadau Garba, told the court at the next adjourned date that 'the matter was for hearing. However, we have started discussing settlement. We shall therefore be asking for a date to report settlement. This is our application.' The application was not opposed by the other parties.

On the adjourned date of September 2, 2010, the journalist, who is the complainant and his counsel, failed to show up in court, a situation that made counsel to the accused persons, Gabriel Didam, to move for the striking out of the matter. However, before moving the motion, he told the court that 'complainant absent and the case was adjourned for report of settlement or hearing. We made efforts to settle this matter amicably but the effort failed. The complainant stalled same. Today he is not in court to report settlement or to go on with hearing. I humbly urged that my client be discharged under section 165 CPC.'

The Magistrate said 'it is 9.55a.m and the complainant or his counsel is not in court. There is no letter from parties to indicate their interest. In view of this and the application made by counsel, I shall hereby grant the application as prayed and strike out the matter in accordance with the provisions of section 165 CPC. The accused persons are discharged accordingly.'