Councillors Exchange Punches With Local Govt Chairman Over Diversion Of Millions Of Naira Released By Okowa For Elections

There is crisis in the Isoko South and Oshimili South chapters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State, following what aggrieved party members have described as “hijack of funds released by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa during the just concluded general election”.

SaharaReporters reliably gathered that several millions of naira released from the state treasury by the Governor less than 48 hours to the March 9 governorship and house of assembly elections was hijacked and diverted to private pockets by some leaders in Isoko South Local Government Area of the state.

Expressing his displeasure wuith the disbursement of the funds in Isoko South, an ex-official of the party who did not want to be named, alleged thus: “Rather than disburse the funds accordingly, some persons who claimed to be close to the Governor, gave out peanuts and diverted huge sums of the funds into their private pockets. One of such persons is the Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) and his cohorts.

“The election funds did not get to those it was meant for. If not that APC is not a party to rely on, PDP would have been defeated in Isoko South during the March 9 election, because the fund was not disbursed accordingly. Call the state House of Assembly member representing Isoko South constituency 11 who is also the Chairman of the campaign in Isoko South, Hon. Johnson Erijo, he cannot deny the diversion of the election funds released by Okowa.

“Every local government council in the state got these funds running into so many millions of naira released by Okowa, but the one that came to Isoko South was diverted into private pockets. Can Erijo say he is not aware of the stealing by these so-called PDP leaders who claimed to be close to the Governor? Won’t the money get finished? Will the money remain with them for ever? The answer is no; even as we talk, some of them are going broke now.”

When contacted on the issue, Erijo said he heard the news too that party members were complaining and alleging that election funds were diverted. But he maintained that no such thing happened, adding that the funds released by the Governor were disbursed accordingly.

“The information you got has nothing to do with the funds released from the state. The way you heard the news so I heard it too as the head of the campaign in Isoko. The money that came from the state were properly tagged and released as same,” he said.

“We were trying to raise some money to augment what was brought from the state, so as a head of the campaign, the same way you are hearing it now, I heard that some of our big boys brought some money. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the money and I don’t want to probe. I don’t want to probe; the same way you heard it so we heard it too. In fact, it was very disturbing to some of us. Well, we have won; that’s why I don’t want to probe anything.”

In a similar vein, the Chairman of Oshimili South Local Government Area, Uche Osadebe, and his councillors were said to have been embroiled in physical combat over the election funds.

Narrating the show of shame to our correspondent, a senior official of the council and Head Of Department, (HOD) who pleaded for anonymity said trouble started barely three days after the elections, when the councillors approached the Chairman to give them their own share of the millions of naira released by the Governor.

“The Chairman, who already had misappropriated the said money, gave flimsy excuses, saying he gave the leader of the legislative arm N300,000. The councillors were angered beyond control, so they barged into the Chairman’s office and engaged him in a physical combat.

“The council premises was turned into a theatre of war where people were exchnaging punches, which attracted the Police and other security operatives at the council. The Chairman and the councillors were later arrested to the Police A Division where the issue was addressed by the Divisional Police Office, DPO, CSP Ukang Esther, in charge of the area.

It will be recalled that during the release of bailout funds, the council Chairman also had issues with the councillors over embezzlement of the over N10 million allocated to the council to offset some outstanding debts and salaries of staff.

As of the time of filing this report, calls made and messages sent to the Chairman of Oshimili South local government area, Uche Osadebe, were not acknowledged.