Bauchi State Governor, Mr Bala Mohammed, has alleged that his predecessor, Mr Mohammed Abubakar, spent N2.3bn in five months to buy materials for burial in the state. This translates to an average of N460 million monthly.
But Abubakar has dismissed the allegation, describing it as laughable.
The governor, who spoke through his spokesperson, Mr Ladan Salihu, in an interview with journalists in Bauchi, said the funds were spent between January and May, 2019.
He explained that over N900m was spent on the purchase of white cloth used for wrapping corpses while over N1.4bn was used to buy the wood for lacing the graves after burial.
According to him, the government discovered issues of corruption, venality, daylight robbery of the commonwealth of the people of the state.
Ladan alleged, “This money which ought to have been appropriated by the state House of Assembly before expenditure, all of a sudden emanated from our treasury books. How could you imagine that a state government, within five months, that is, between January and May, 2019, spent well over N2.3bn on funeral materials, dresses for wrapping dead bodies and the woods that you lace the graveyards with.”
Asked if the state government had any proof to substantiate its claim, he said there was no iota of doubt on the matter, saying that there was documentary evidence to prove that.
“All these are captured in the report of the transition committee and these were gathered from documents and vouchers and payments made from our treasury books. There is the Freedom of Information Law, use it and find out for yourself from those documents,” Ladan said.
The governor’s spokesman vowed that the state government would use every instrument of the law, including petitioning Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission and other anti-corruption agencies on the matter, “until every kobo stolen is returned.”
Ladan said, “Government will take stern measures; we will recover every kobo that has been looted or stolen by the immediate past administration and, in fact, the administration before it. Where it is established that there is a clear case of misappropriation or outright stealing of public funds, it’s an obligation, you don’t allow criminality to run roughshod on the rest of us because these are public funds.”
When contacted by our correspondent for a reaction, media aide to the former governor, Mr Ali M. Ali, said he was not aware of such allegation.
He said, “I’ve not heard of anything like that so I will speak on it when I make my findings but this is laughable. I will get back to you on that when I have done my findings.”
He had yet to get back to our correspondent 24 hours after he was first contacted on the matter.