by saint mienpamo on July 27, 2012 at 8:09 am
The investigations into the activities of local government chairmen in Bayelsa State by the state House of Assembly continued on Wednesday with startling revelations that the Chairman of Sagbama, Mr. Pere Peretu, spent the council’s funds without an appropriation law.
The lawmakers were furious that the chairman, workers and political office holders in the council received salaries and allowances from January to June without an enabling law.
They were also angry that the protracted crisis between Peretu and the councillors had torn the council apart as the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Kombowei Benson, described the council as non-existent.
One of the lawmakers, Mr. Victor Ateke, representing Brass 1 Constituency, accused the chairman of spending the council’s money illegally.
He recalled that councillors in the council had signed a letter preventing the council’s bank from releasing further money to the chairman.
When asked whether there was a law allowing a local government chairman to spend money without a budget, Peretu said, “Though I am a lawyer, I don’t know all the laws.”
Also, the Leader of the House, Dr. Peter Akpe, observed that Peretu had not fully complied with the transparency law which mandates local government chairmen to make public declarations of the council’s incomes and expenditures.
Responding to the issues, Peretu admitted that he was unable to present a budget of the council because of the crisis between him and the councillors.
He said the crisis prevented him from adhering strictly to the financial laws in the state, describing himself as “embattled”.
“I am embattled and so I have been running from pillar to post. I am sorry for violating the laws,” he said
But other lawmakers accused the chairman of over-indulgence, mismanagement, contract inflation and reckless spending.
Benson said, “You are the architect of your problem. The legislative arm of the local government is not in existence. So, Sagbama Local Council is not working.”
He observed that some transactions in the council were made without proper documentation.
There was, however, drama in the hallowed chambers as the chairman constantly disagreed with the treasurer of the council over some contents of the council’s financial books.