New facts emerged weekend on the reasons behind the panic return of N19.5million out of the controversial N78million allegedly diverted by the Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Hon. Kombowei Benson and other members of the House during the last 43rd Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in South Africa.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the mandatory invitation to the Speaker, and some key leaders of the Bayelsa Assembly by the Anti-Fraud Unit and the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to Lagos and Abuja for an appearance before them or return of the unspent funds necessitated the refund into the State Treasury.
Sources at the State House of Assembly yesterday informed the LEADERSHIP that the refunded amount of N19.5million was made possible by a letter from the EFCC and dated August 6 invited the speaker to its office in Abuja for questioning.
The EFCC through the Head of Economic Governance Department, Olufunke Adetayo, had requested the speaker to be at EFCC’s office on August 13 with a breakdown on the spending of the controversial N78million fund and a prepared defence of the allegations raised by the civil society group, Transparency and Good Governance Coalition.
According to the source, the letter from the EFCC stated that “This Commission is investigating a case of conspiracy, abuse of office and diversion of public funds in which the need to obtain clarification from you becomes imperative.
"In view of the above, you are kindly requested for interview by the undersigned through Mr. Obioha Okorie on 13th August, 2012 at Block C, No 5 Fomella Street, Off Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent, Wuse 2, Abuja by 10 am prompt.“This request is in pursuant to section 38 Sub 1 and 2 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004″.
The Assembly source informed the Leadership that though the speaker delayed replying the letter and was alleged to have engaged in hide and seek with the commission, “Benson wrote to the commission begging that the date should be shifted to August 20. The speaker was said to have reneged in his promise to appearing before the commission on August 20”.