On Tuesday, April 2 2013, the Zamfara state House of Assembly, during its 154th sitting, constituted a special investigation committee composed of nine members of the House to investigate the operations and financial activities of the Zamfara State Universal Basic Education Board (ZSUBEB). Since May last year when the report was supposed to have been submitted to Abdulaziz Yari, governor of Zamfara state, it still lies on the table of Sunisi Rkiji, Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly, why? Abdallah el-Kurebe reports.
The committee, with Aliyu Kagara, a member of the House of Assembly, as chairman, had terms of reference including, (a) ascertaining how training and retraining funds made available to ZSUBEB were utilized; (b) collate and analyse all complaints from teachers and allow for fair hearing by the management; (c) investigate all external and internal funding to the Board; (d) investigate what should be corrected or revisited by the Board; (e) ascertain all contractual agreements whether direct labour or contracts between the Board and companies or individuals and (f) liaise with the Federal Ministry of Education, UBEC and other donor agencies on the issue of donation, counterpart funding and other forms of cash release from Federal Government as grant. The committee, which began its sitting on April 4, 2013, held series of meetings different stakeholders.
Newsdiaryonline gathered from the interim report of the committee that ZSUBEB operates fifteen separate accounts. These include Special Intervention account no. 10129-13399 with Zenith Bank; Self Help account no. 60186-01453 with Zenith Bank; Special Education account no. 10108-52733 with Zenith Bank; SUBEB account no. 10029-45977 with UBA; UNICEF account no. 37595-39929 with FCMB; Leave Grant account no. 10127-38488 with Zenith Bank; Pension account no. 00160-42730 with ECO Bank and Local Government Education Authority (L.G.E.A.) account no. 10026-56642 with UBA.
Others are UBE Matching Grant account no. 10107-11216 with Zenith Bank; SUBEB Matching Grant account no. 10129-13399 with Zenith Bank; Teachers Profession account no. 00159-35686 with Sterling Bank; Good Performance account no. 910255-9/110 with Guarantee Trust Bank; ETF account no. 211-1522883-130 with Unity Bank; Matching Grant account no. 0015838720 with Unity Bank and ETF Tsangaya account no. 173548600-0003.
According to the report, after six weeks of the committee’s investigations, it found out that ZSUBEB maintains seven different account, which include Pension Account, L. G. E. A. Account, Teachers Professional Account, Headquarters Account, UNICEF Account, ETF Account and Revenue Account.
The committee concluded that Murtala Jangebe, Chairman of ZSUBEB misappropriated the sum of N248,658,358.00 of the Pension Account. In the L. G. E. A. Account, the committee alleged in its report that Jangebe also misappropriated a total sum of N65,715,522.00. However, the table of expenses drawn by the committee listed names of beneficiaries, who are contractors to the Board. Purposes of the expenditure as stated by the committee varies – Consultancy services, supply of school furniture, consultancy services, accommodation at City King Hotel, sponsorship of Education Secretaries to attend national conference, etcetera.
Alleged to have also been misappropriated were monies in the Teacher Profession Account amounting to N142,968,870.00 through a claim that the Board organised training workshops in various institutions including British Council; College of Education, Maru; ZSPEAC; NTI, Kaduna; Federal College of Education (Technical), Gusau and Usmanu Danfodiyo University Consultancy Services.
The sum of N12,027,579.15, according to the committee was withdrawn by the chairman of the Board from Revenue Account while in the SUBEB Account, a total sum of N76,856,153.96 (including interests) was misappropriated by Jangebe. Others were N41,226,238.00 from UNICEF Account; N42,777,312.03 from ETF Account and Headquarters Account, N14,700,990.00.
However in its recommendations, the committee stated categorically that Jangebe misappropriated the total sum of N797,284,155.45 with a breakdown as follows: Pension Account, N248,568,358.00; L. G. E. A. Account, N65,715,522.00; Teacher Profession Account, N378,110,754.00; UNICEF Account, N41,226,238.00; ETF Account, N42,777,312.30; Revenue Account, N12,027,579.15 and N8,828,392.00 as monies deducted but not remitted.
It therefore recommended that “due to excessive misappropriation and misconduct of public funds entrusted upon the present Executive Chairman, Hon. Murtala Adamu Jangebe, the committee do not have trust in him to administer the Zamfara State Universal Basic Education Board. As a result of these therefore, the committee is however calling for a Vote of Confidence/No Confidence to be passed upon the Executive Chairman of Zamfara State Universal Basic Education Board.”
It also recommended that “Prosecution be made for criminal disregard to laid down financial regulations to those found guilty through the Zamfara State Attorney General/ Commissioner of Justice.”
Jangebe, who responded to Newsdiaryonline’s inquiries said that the problem between him and the House of Assembly was more political than real. He feels that some people were after his job because they feel that he should not be there. Jangebe was also a member of the Assembly during the administration of former governor Mahmuda Shinkafi. When he fell-out with Shinkafi, he pitched tents with present Governor Yari.
“The problem I have with some members of the House of Assembly is more of politics than any other thing. What we have achieved in the primary education sub-sector in Zamfara state is obviously glaring. There is serious change that has taken place here. But we are in a political society and people make their calculations and permutations and take their actions or decisions on the basis of their decisions,” Jangebe told Newsdiaryonline.
He alleged that some members of the House members, who are from the same constituency with him, were moved by political forces to assume that he should not be the chairman of the Board. “They came up with the so-called investigation of the activities of the Primary Board. This was as a result of a petition by a contractor, who claimed that he had done some work for the Board but was not paid.”
Jangebe told Newsdiaryonline that they found out that the contractor had no genuine claim. “He is an ICT consultant who did our payroll. He left it so porous that our accounts clerks manipulated the payroll, monthly. We called him to put it in order, which he did and we paid him. But after paying him, we set up the primary assessment committee and he voluntarily agreed to serve on that committee.,” and according to him the contractor, having served on the committee, was paid his allowance as other members of the committee.
Newsdiaryonline further gathered that the contractor in question made a claim of N47,000,000 for serving on the committee even as the whole exercise was to gulp only N50,000,000. “That was what set the stage for the conflict. He went round looking for ways to get N47,000,000, which we could not pay and he petitioned the House. Curiously enough, some members of the House thought that that was matter that was worth investigating. They accepted his petition and invited us.”
Jangebe said that after the issue was resolved between the Board and the contractor, the House set a machinery to investigate the whole activities of the Board., which was the result contained in the report that was said to have indicted Jangebe for allegedly misappropriating the sum of N746,000,000.
“They investigated our project account in which money in it cannot be accessed by anybody except a contractor. They claimed that the chairman of the Board had misappropriated the money, which was about N746,000,000 of contractors’ money. More so, throughout their investigation, they never invited me to defend any of their allegations,” he told Newsdiaryonline.
Answering a question during a public meeting in Gusau, Newsdiaryonline gathered that Yari told the gathering that he had not received any report from the House of Assembly in that regard. It was further gathered that the governor threatened to resign if any government official could steal so much money from the coffers of the government without him knowing.
When Newsdiaryonline contacted Kagara, chairman of the investigation committee through a telephone interview, he explained that his committee had completed the assignment given to it by the House and had submitted its report, which contains its findings and recommendations to the House for consideration. “As far as I am concerned, the House gave us a responsibility of investigating the Board and we have concluded and submitted our findings to the House. We have finished our work. I cannot tell you anything more than that.”
However, Newsdiaryonline put several voice calls, including a text message to Sunusi Rikiji, the Speaker of Zamfara State House of Assembly, but he neither picked the calls nor replied the text message. Newsdiaryonline spoke with some citizens of Zamfara about their opinion on the probe. Mande Isa said that it was confusing that an allegation of that magnitude could go down the drain. “My brother, this is something else. To my belief, if the allegation were true, the House would have acted to the conclusion. An amount nearly N800 million? No!”
Another citizen who would not let his name known told Newsdiaryonline that politicians were foolish who think that all other persons are. “Probably they thought he had embezzled the money and they wanted him to give them their own share. If they truly found out that he misappropriated such amount of money and they have now kept quiet, who knows who is hiding what?”