Adams Oshiomhole, governor of Edo state, has called on the federal government to probe Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former minister of finance and coordinating minister for the economy, over the role she played in the alleged phantom arms deal. Addressing state house correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, Oshiomhole said the former minister could not claim ignorance over the deal.
“As a governor, I know that no money gets out of the treasury even after I have approved without the commissioner of finance. That is the procedure,” he said. “The minister of finance, under the rules, must endorse before money gets out of the treasury, before the Central Bank of Nigeria will release the money.
“All those ministers of finance, including Okonjo-Iweala, should be probed. I don’t care what people say. You cannot be coordinating a corruption-ridden economy and be pretending to be an angel.
“We cannot selectively deal with the issue. We must deal with all those involved in this chain of conspiracy.
In criminal law, when two or three people are involved in an act of criminality, all of them are charged for conspiracy because you cannot get money out of the treasury without them knowing.
“For a government that was talking about transparency, due process, no objection and all those things they put in place, I am unable to accept that money can come out without the minister of finance endorsing documents. “When you endorse documents, you must follow through to ensure that funds are used for the purpose that they were released.
” Oshiomhole said he was not shocked by the revelations that have been made in recent times, wondering why Sambo Dasuki, former national security adviser, who was supposed to be an advisory officer, turned to “a procurement agent for government”. He said the investigation should not be limited to Dasuki, whom he described as “a principal suspect in the scam”. The governor called for the extension of the probe to cover all those who “endorsed, signed and approved the release of the stolen money”. He also asked the government to investigate subsidy payments by the previous government. “Dasuki is only one bleeding point. There were several bleeding points in the system,” he said. “If you look at the total expenditure on subsidy, and the World Bank has released figures now, lay your hands on the various appropriation bills passed by the national assembly in the recent past and see how much was appropriated for oil subsidy for those period and you will find out that they are not up to half of what government actually spent.
“This means money not appropriated was spent. That is criminal. People who were involved in those acts must be brought to justice.” On the issue of N18,000 minimum wage, Oshiomhole said he would rather continue to put pressure on the rich to pay their taxes regularly than to reduce the salaries of workers in the state. “You have to pay tax, they are telling me who are you? And I’m like I’m government and if you don’t pay, you who have houses in other countries, you pay your land use charge,
” he said. “And when you come to Edo you think you can use bold face. No, I squeeze you. If you don’t pay, we take you to court, we secure conviction and we send you to prison. And we have secured convictions; we destroyed properties of rich people and they are excreting. “Well, this kind of excreting is not something that is smelling. We just squeeze the money out of their pockets. And we are up-to-date in salaries. Last month, I paid (salaries) on 25th, the month before I paid on the 23rd and this month I will pay by the 20th, before Christmas and people are entitled to celebrate democracy.” Oshiomhole described the proposed N6 trillion 2016 budget as a “progressive budget” aimed at creating more employment opportunities.