There is rising tension in the Bayelsa state house of assembly over the petition filed before the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) by the member representing Brass Constituency 1, Hon. Israel Sunny-Goli against the Speaker, Hon. Kombowei Benson, the Clerk of the House, Mr. Aaron Timiye and two other accountants over alleged diversion and embezzlement of over a billion naira in allowances, constituency tour and office maintenance in the last four years.
According to the petitioner, Hon. Israel Sunny-Goli, though he endured the show of disdain to his office as an assembly member and his constituency by the Speaker, Hon. Kombowei Benson, on the direct order of the state governor, Seriake Dickson, the alleged diversion of his allowances started since 2015 till date.
Sunny-Goli, in the petition to the EFCC, alleged that the grand conspiracy is by the Speaker, Hon. Kombowei Benson, the Clerk, Mr. Aaron Timiye, Head of Account Department, Mr. Koroye Stephen and the Former HOD, Accounts, Mr. Thompson Tamaradubo to intimidate and deprive him of his legitimate financial benefits from the assembly and further perpetrate large scale financial fraud on the funds belonging to the assembly.
According to the petition, signed by his legal counsel, Ochu Chukwuma, Esq.: “It is also very pertinent to state that from 2015 till date the Speaker of the House of Assembly and his co-travelers in the disastrous financial misadventure have refused to pay our client his furniture allowance but have appropriated the same for themselves.
“Sometimes in 2016, our client was deliberately left out of an approved trip for all members of the house of assembly to attend the Commonwealth Parliamentary Assembly in Mauritius. While every member of the assembly was paid, our client was refused payment and consequently the trip. The approved money was taking, withdrawn and spent by the persons mentioned.
“Sir, it is of paramount importance to state that the approved sum of money for member’s constituency tour during the annual assembly recess which money is usually paid to members’ salaries account has never been paid to our client.
“This money was paid to other members from the assembly Sterling Bank account and that of our client has been embezzled jointly by the afore-mentioned persons. While in June, 2018 the approved N8,000,000.00 (eight million naira) only usually paid as constituency office maintenance allowance to members was transferred from the Assembly Sterling Bank Account to the Assembly Zenith Bank Account and paid to all the other members’ salaries account except that of our client.
“Most worrisome sir, within this month of August, 2018 our client was paid the sum of N10, 000,000,00 only as constituency tour allowance for the annual assembly recess. This money was consequently and surreptitiously reversed from our clients salary account on the request of the accountant acting supposedly on the orders of the Speaker of the assembly.
“These acts and many more have been going on in the assembly from inception and our client has drawn the attention of the Speaker to the anomalies but the same and all efforts by our client have been rebuffed without remedy, the Speaker citing “order from above” as excuse.
“ Let it be stressed that the assembly is an arm of government with its operations distinct and separate from the other arms of government hence, it will be ridiculous for the perpetrators of this financial fraud to cite “Order from above” as excuse.
“It has become very urgent to checkmate this untoward financial recklessness being perpetrated against our client on one hand and the funds of the assembly on the other hand hence this petition against the principal actors. You are therefore, invited to use your good offices to properly investigate this matter with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice.”
Several attempts to get the reaction of the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Kombowei Benson proved difficult as his media aide, Mr. Aotendeike Boloigha, pleaded on Tuesday for 48 hours delay so as to allow his principal respond to the allegation.
Other sources within the state assembly told our correspondent that the Speaker is seeking audience with the state governor in order to ensure his response to the petition is not misconstrued. But as at the time of filing the report 72 hours later, no response has been made by the Bayelsa Speaker.