Despite the move by the Ekiti State government to probe ex-governor Kayode Fayemi over an alleged embezzlement of N852 million belonging to the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB, it has been revealed that an investigative committee inaugurated by the governor, Ayodele Fayose, on the same issue three years ago exonerated Mr. Fayemi.
Mr. Fayose had set up the five-member committee after he assumed office as governor to investigate his predecessor, who is the current minister of mines and solid minerals, following the controversy over the suspension of the state by the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC.
The committee in its report dated December 3, 2015, said it found that the cash amounting to N852 million was withdrawn from the account of the SUBEB by Access Bank, Ado-Ekiti Branch, and not Mr. Fayemi’s government.
According to the report, the withdrawal was made because the Fayemi administration ‘failed to perfect the loan agreements as well as failing to provide the Irrevocable Standing Payment Order(ISPO) for the loan.’
The committee, headed by a former Chief Judge of Ekiti State and the current Oluyin of Iyin-Ekiti, Ademola Ajakaiye, had Bode Ola, a former senator, as secretary.
Other panel members were former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Owoseni Ajayi; former Accountant General, O.O. Owolabi; former Deputy Director, Physical Planning Unit, SUBEB, Ehinafe Olakunle, now late; Dapo Akinyemi and B.J. Ogundare.
Part of the report read: “The last administration sought for a loan facility to pay the 2012 Counterpart Fund from Access Bank Plc, Ado-Ekiti Branch. The sum of N852,936,793.12k was granted and same was lodged into SUBEB Account No: 0065385694 on the 25th November, 2013.
“The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) on 3rd January, 2014 released 2012 Matching Grant of N852,936,793.12k to SUBEB during the tenure of Kayode Fayemi-led administration.
“After following all the necessary due process, the Ekiti SUBEB awarded contracts to contractors based on the total sum of N1,705,872.24k (i.e. the matching grant and the State Counterpart Fund). The projects have been executed to about 55 per cent completion.
“In October 2014, Access Bank Plc, Ado-Ekiti Branch withdrew the loan from the SUBEB Account No: 0065385694, because the last administration did not perfect the loan agreements by not agreeing interest rate and providing Irrevocable Standard Payment Order for the loan.”
The committee, in its three-point recommendation, found no fault with the Fayemi administration in handling the funds, but instead urged the state to liaise with the Universal Basic Education Commission on ways to make it easier to access its funds.
“In view of the present financial situation of the state, the state government should specifically request/appeal to UBEC to set aside the payment of 2012 Counterpart Fund to enable Ekiti SUBEB move forward in project implementation,” the panel recommended.
“The state government should seek for special favour from UBEC and source for the 2013 Counterpart Fund of the sum of N1,030,797,297.30 so that SUBEB can access the FGN/UBEC matching grants for the period.
“The state government should henceforth perfect all loan agreements with regard to the implementation of UBEC/SUBEB projects,” the report also advised.
Mr. Fayose’s government is in the middle of commencing another investigation on the same matter, despite several lawsuits instituted by Mr. Fayemi to stop the move.
The minister has also sued some state government officials for defamation, the action believed to have instigated the new probe.
The media aide to Mr. Fayemi, Olayinka Oyebode, told PREMIUM TIMES that state government “was bent on going ahead with a fresh probe apparently because the initial report failed to meet its expectations.”
He also said that although he had sighted the committee’s report, it did not emanate from Mr. Fayemi.
He argued that Mr. Fayose’s government failed to uphold the truth even after the report was submitted.
Reacting to the report, the Special Assistant to the Ekiti State Governor on Public Communication and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said those bringing out the committee’s report should have waited to present it at the sitting of the judicial panel of inquiry.
“There is a difference between a committee set up by an office and a judicial panel of inquiry set up at the instance of the Ekiti State House of Assembly which is empowered by law to do so with a view to investigate the allegations against the former governor,” he said in a statement.
“Besides, the judicial panel of inquiry is not only probing the funds of SUBEB alone, but it is carrying out a holistic investigation of the last administration.”
Mr. Olayinka also referred to a letter from UBEC which was sighted by PREMIUM TIMES, alleging that the withdrawal of the funds from the bank was fraudulent.
“Sequel to the project monitoring exercise conducted in your state, it was discovered that your board had withdrawn the sum of N852, 935, 713.92 being 2012 state counterpart fund lodged on 25th November 2013 which qualified your board to access 2012 UBE matching grant of 852, 936, 713.92,” the letter dated April 15, 2015 and signed by the Executive Secretary, Dikko Suleiman, read.
“The action constitutes a serious financial crime and also violates section 11(2) of UBE Act 2004.”
The commission thereafter urged Ekiti State to refund the sum or face the wrath of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The letter also conveyed the state’s suspension from the UBE funding scheme.
Mr. Olayinka added that only the judicial panel would determine the true status of the funds and not any other committee report.
The new panel of inquiry is led by a former acting chief judge, Silas Oyewole, and it is expected to commence sitting soon at the Magistrate’s Section of the State Judiciary Complex.