A leaked letter dated November 2020 from the office of the Special Adviser to Kogi State Governor on Sanitation and Emergency Management, Hon. Imam Saleh has exposed how funds and relief materials were alleged misappropriated by two government officials.
The letter which was addressed to Governor Yahaya Bello through the Chief of Staff, Pharm. Abdulkareem Asuku was a report of fraudulent malpractices and abuse of office by the Executive Secretary of Kogi State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Mr. Julius Mejiyon.
Saleh in the letter indicted Mejiyon of having allegedly connived with the Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Deputy Governor, Mr. Sunday Faleke to misappropriate the sum of eight million, seven hundred and twenty five thousand naira (8,725,000) in the account of SEMA.
Parts of the document read: “Diversion of relief materials meant for flood victims in Kogi State e.g one hundred and twenty-five 2kg bags of rice out of one thousand bags declared by the Deputy Governor of Kogi State, 50 (fifty) cartons of three inches nails, six sewing machine kept in the store, eight bundles of zinc and trucks of fertilisers diverted.
“The Executive Secretary uses one Mr Bala B. Ahmodu, a staff member of SEMA along with the PRO (Public Relations Officer) SEMA for the sale of the relief material from NEMA meant for flood victims in the state.
“Mr Mejiyon has been using the influence of the Chief of Staff to the Deputy Governor, Mr Sunday Faleke to threaten, harass and intimidate myself, the head of service, and other senior staff of the agency in flagrant abuse of office and disrespect for the office of the Special Adviser on Emergency Management. Connivance with the store officers of SEMA and Kogi ADP, one Mr Abdulazeez in the diversion of trucks of fertilisers meant for Kogi farmers.
“Even though the E.S is currently on terminal leave, he had fraudulently ordered some relief materials to be taken away from the stores of the State Ministry of Works contrary to the Civil Service and without due process but my timely interception stalled the removal of the relief materials from the store.
“Prayers: that the vacant Kogi Peoples consumer shop be renovated and used as an alternative warehouse for Kogi SEMA to prevent subsequent diversion of materials donated to the state.
“The officer in question, Mr Julius Mejiyan should be removed and replaced immediately with a competent officer from within the agency.
“The activities of the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Deputy Governor in relations to the above malpractices should be investigated based on the indictments of the Internal Auditors report.
Corroborating the allegations, a report by the Head of Internal Audit, SEMA Kogi, Oloruntoba Sunday, stated that the relief materials given to the SEMA staff members by NEMA 2018 such as Spaghetti, Macaroni, were being given to the D-cos office (Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Deputy Governor), Es (Executive Secretary) office, SEMA staff, Protocol DG office & security.
The auditor noted that they were “thereby denying the rightful victims who are in dire need of the materials as confirmed from the report of the flood incident submitted by the Director Relief where some communities in Idah Local Government complained bitterly that they were denied the previous relief materials distributed”.
The report also stated that there was no proper utilisation of N3,000,000 allocated for the 2020 flood exercise.
“I observed during the audit exercise that the agency could only provide flood incident report generated by Director Relief and there is no significant evidence that the report was acted upon. The agency could not provide its activities report of the events and happenings in 2019.”
Other allegations were redundancy of relief materials, no register for donors and the list of items received, and improper distribution of relief materials.