Benue N46B Fraud: Respond to allegations, PDP charges Alia

Nigerian Concord Newspaper

Benue state chapter of the People’s Democratic Party has charged the state governor, Reverend Father Hyacinth Alia to respond to the allegations of fraud amounting to N46B made against him from various sources.

The state publicity secretary of the party, Mr. Bemgba Iortyom who made this charge during a press briefing with journalists in Makurdi today noted that it is time for the governor to clear airs on the allegations of duplication of contract payments and other expenditures amounting to N46B against him.

The statement reads:

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue State is concerned over mounting allegations of duplication of contractual payments and other huge expenditures made against Governor Hyacinth Alia from various public sources, and the party demands that the governor come clean on those allegations in fulfillment of his sworn duty of accountability and transparency to the people.

Over the past few days, the media space has been awash with publications from various news mediums alleging that the Benue State Governor has squandered over N46 billion for purposes which it is questionable how they align with the objective for good governance.

Notably, renowned online news platforms such as Sahara Reporters and Nigerian Concord, have in separate publications splashed details of expenditure by Governor Alia running into tens of billions of naira in what appears to be duplication of contracts, refurbished “palliative” vehicles, travel expenses,, hotel accomodations, purchase of vehicles, cost of running Government House, Makurdi and catering for guests and other sundry purposes.

A summary of the allegations of questionable expenditure of public funds by Governor Alia as reported by different media outlets include that;

“Between May 29 and September 30th, 2023, Governor Hyacinth Alia of Benue State has spent more than N46 billion of state resources on various purposes, prominent among which are expenses for duplicated contracts, his travels, vehicles, hotel bills, cost of running Government House etc”.

“In August, Governor Alia announced that his government had awarded contracts for the construction of 16 township roads in Makurdi at the cost of N6 billion. The road projects were yet to start anywhere in the state capital, when suddenly, the Governor announced again that the State Executive Council had given him approval to increase the contract amount for the 16 road projects from N6 billion to N9 billion.”

The newspapers further reported and I quote; “Records we reliably obtained showed that on the 6th October, 2023, the state government awarded M/s Triacta Nigeria Limited the sum of N2,760,018,000.00 for the construction/rehabilitation of 16 roads within Makurdi metropolis (15.39km) (contract No. BSPPC-47/2023);

“Again on 30th October, 2023, the Alia government released the sum of N1,977,379,575.79 (N1.9 billion) with contract number BSPPC-47/2023 which was paid to M/s Triacta Nigeria Ltd for the same construction/rehabilitation of 15.39km of 16 roads within Makurdi Metropolis.

Given such huge amounts already released for the road projects, a tour of the Benue State capital reveals a low level of work in progress on the said roads after the elaborate flag-off ceremony on the 7th of August 2023.

“On the 5th of September, 2023, Governor Alia released N1,273,875,000.00 (N1.2 billion) for the procurement of 100 refurbished 2017/2016 Hummer buses for palliative measures and 50 fairly used Hilux 2018/2019 model vehicles for other purposes. The company known as Lajec Engineering Services Ltd owned by some cronies of the Governor were given the contract to procure the vehicles;

“Governor Alia again on the 27th of September, 2023, released additional N736,375,000.00, this time for an unspecified number of fairly used Hummer buses for palliative measures and fairly used Toyota Hilux (2018/2019 model) for other purposes with the (contract no. BSPPC-43/2023). The job was also awarded to Lajec Engineering Limited;

“Shockingly, on the 28th September, 2023, the Alia government again released N2,236,000,000.00 (N2.2 billion) to Lajec Engineering Services Ltd for the procurement of the same refurbished Hummer buses and some fairly used Toyota Hilux (2018/2019) model vehicles. The number of the vehicles in the 3rd approval was also not specified;

“Investigation further showed that the Hummer buses were converted from right hand drive to left hand drive;

“Fact check however shows that the current market prices of the used Hummer buses are only N10 million per unit;

“Governor Alia has spent over N3 billion on his vehicles and those of other government officials including State Assembly members;

“The government of Rev Fr. Alia also claimed that it spent the following amounts for the running of Government House Makurdi: 4th July 23, spent N63,508,333.00 (N63.5 million) on overhead and other unclear expenses;

“27th Jul 23, spent N63,508,333.00 (63.5 million) for overhead cost and other expenses. Spent same amount of N63,508,333.00 (63.5 million) for August and September, 2023;

“Between 14th August and 4th September, the Governor said he spent N60 million on provision of food for his guests at Government House, Makurdi;

“Within the four months under review, Governor Alia spent over N5 billion on his travels and other expenses, most of which are personal to his office as the governor.

Questions which PDP demands that Governor Alia answers as a matter of urgency include:

* Are the allegations of those expenditures true or false?

* If they are true, how justifiable are they, were the expenditures done in conformity with extant procurement and appropriation laws of Benue State?

* But if the allegations are false, what then is the income and expenditure profile of Benue State from May 29, 2023 to this moment under the watch of the governor?

These are germane questions which PDP cautions Governor Alia against ignoring in his usual silent-mode approach to issues of accountability and transparency over these allegations.

To do so would be to accept culpability, in other words he will be deemed to be guilty-as-charged, should he keep sealed lips over those weighty allegations, as he has always done when called out to account for his stewardship as governor.

It is the right of Benue people to know how their commonwealth is being expended, and this is a right the government of the day must not deny them.

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