Posted by Bolade OMONIJO, Group Political Editor, and John MAYAKI, Benin City on
THE Police in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have arrested nine aides of former Governor Oserheimen Osunbor for allegedly attempting to loot state government property at the Edo State Governor’s Lodge, Abuja.
THE Police in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have arrested nine aides of former Governor Oserheimen Osunbor for allegedly attempting to loot state government property at the Edo State Governor’s Lodge, Abuja. A police source in FCT command told The Nation that the aide de camp of new Governor Adams Oshiomhole alerted the police when a man (name withheld) was caught supervising the evacuation of utilities including air conditioners, refrigerators, and television sets to a waiting car, preparatory to taking them out of the premises.
When apprehended, the man reportedly told the police that the said property were his personal effects that he chose to move out in view of the change of leadership in the state.
The said moves at about 8.30 p.m. raised suspicion and the man was taken to the Asokoro Police Station where he was detained.
Governor Oshiomhole’s Director of Public Affairs and Strategy, Mr. Eric Osagie yesterday confirmed that the men had been handed over to the police. He said in a telephone interview that the leader of the team claimed that he was acting on the instruction of the deposed governor to move the property.
Osagie said: "That is the situation. The police are still looking into the matter and it is being personally handled by the DPO of the Asokoro division. While they have said that the materials belong to them, we wonder the hurried nature. Anyway, it is now over to the police to do their job."
The alleged involvement of Osunbor could not be confirmed as attempts to speak with the former governor and his media aides failed.
Investigations were still on yesterday to determine the extent of the alleged looting that had taken place in the Lodge.
Earlier on Thursday, Governor Oshiomhole had frozen the accounts of the state before leaving for Abuja to confer with President Umaru Yar’Adua and warned that his administration would not tolerate any fraudulent deals.
There are fears that both in Benin and Abuja property belonging to the state government might have been looted at the last minute by functionaries of the former administration. A report said N500 million was withdrawn on Thursday from the Benin City branch of a particular new generation bank by an aide in the Osunbor government.
Osunbor’s usurpation of the government was stopped on Tuesday by the Court of Appeal – after 18 months.
Oshiomhole sacked commissioners and other aides, dissolved the boards of all commissions and visited President Umaru Yar’Adua in Abuja.
He said the visit was to show appreciation for the President’s commitment to the rule of law.
Oshiomhole swore in Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Pally Iriase in Benin, the state capital, before going to Abuja.
A statement by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Orientation, Mrs Betty Igbeyi, said Oshiomhole ordered that the accounts be frozen until further notice.
The statement reads: "It is hereby announced for the information of the general public, ministries, and extra-ministerial departments that all government accounts are hereby frozen. Banks are by this announcement advised not to honour any government cheque for clearance until further notice."
In another statement dissolving all banks and sacking the former administration’s appointees, issued after he was sworn in, Iriase said the action became imperative for the Oshiomhole government to begin on a clean slate.
The statement reads: "Following the Court of Appeal judgment of 11th November 2008, it is hereby announced for the information of the general public that all political appointments, including Commissioners, Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants, Special Assistants and indeed, all non-political appointments, made by the administration of Senator Osunbor are hereby terminated.
"All affected appointees are requested to hand over all government properties in their possession immediately to the Permanent Secretary, Directorate of Central Administration, Governor’s Office, Benin City".
Iriase directed the chairmen and members of the dissolved boards to hand over the government properties in their possession including vehicles to the aforesaid permanent secretary within 24 hours.
Swearing in the SSG at the Government House, Oshiomhole said: "Some years ago, I saw Pally Iriase as a competent person that I can entrust some things into his hands".
He said then, he never thought that he would one day become a governor.
Iriase, the former chairman of Owan East Local Government Area, he said, deserved the appointment because of his "contribution in the past to his locality as Chairman of the council. Your work has been one of the things that have earned you this position. When he was in the local government, I saw evidence of a local government boss".
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