EDO-members stormed the State House of Assembly yesterday, demanding for an investigation into how a loan of $120m from the African Development Bank (ADB) for urban water supply disappeared.
President of the organisation, the Reverend David Ugolor who led the placard-carrying protesters to the House told the Speaker, Hon. Matthew Egbadon that the loan was obtained by Senator Tunde Ogbeha, during his tenure as the military administrator of the defunct Bendel State, now Edo and Delta States.
He asked that the said senator be summoned by the House to appear at a public hearing to be conducted by it to explain how the money was allegedly squandered.
“Although the loan was fully disbursed by ADB via an account in London, the money never got to Benin,” he said, adding “today the ADB loan is one of the major external debt of Edo State and the governor, Chief Lucky Igbinedion has expressed serious concern on the burden of this odious debt on the people of Edo State.”
The Reverend Ugolor pointed out that “the public hearing will assist the state government to remove the burden of this odious debt from the people of Edo State and also demand for the loot wherever it is traced to either within or outside the country.”
He assured that the civil society organisation would be most willing to support and participate in the public hearing by giving a testimony “whenever you deem it necessary.”
Responding, the Speaker stated that the House was disposed to instituting an inquiry into the matter, adding however, that the question is that the money was never fully released.
“You have to be able to hold people in authority responsible for how they spent public money,” he stated, pointing out that in the present dispensation, the House was also keenly monitoring how public money is being spent.
He said that its probe of former military administration in the state was frustrated because people were not forthcoming with documented evidence against them.
Emma Amaize, Vanguard (Lagos), February 15, 2002