Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi state has said his predecessor, Mohammed Abubakar, expended N2.3 billion to bury the dead in the state within five months.
But the former governor who said he was not aware of the allegation, however, described it as laughable.
But speaking through his spokesman, Dr. Ladan Salihu, the governor said the funds were spent between January and May, 2019.
Salihu, who said this Sunday in an interview with journalists in Bauchi, further gave a breakdown of the expenses.
He said over N900 million was spent on the apparel to wrap the corpses, with over N1.4 billion expended on the wood for bracing the graves.
The governor’s spokesman further said government stumbled on documents bordering on corruption, venality, daylight robbery of the state’s common wealth.
“These monies which ought to have been appropriated by the Assembly before expenditure, all of a sudden emanated from our treasury books. How could you imagine that a state government, within five months, that is between January and May, 2019, spent well over N2.3 billion on funeral materials, the clothes that are used in clothing dead bodies and the woods that you lace the graveyards with?
“The immediate past government spent N2.3 billion, that government did not spend quarter of that amount in our own hospitals and clinics. They have the temerity to want to put up a show of shame,” he said.
On whether he could justify the claim, Salihu said this was never in doubt as there were supporting documents to that effect.
He said: “All these are captured in the report of the transition committee and these were gathered from documents and vouchers and payments made from our treasury books. There is the Freedom of Information law; go there and find out for yourself from those documents.
“We are talking about the principle behind it. You have bought these materials for funerals in graveyards, what have you done to the Christian cemetery? But we are saying that it is wrong completely, it is not the duty of government to buy burial materials for anybody. It is the responsibility of the family, the community and people of goodwill. It has never existed in our history books that government bought those materials in the first place.
“So, you know that these things were bought for a reason, you would not see the materials, because they have disappeared into or out of ballot boxes.”
The governor’s image maker said the administration, using the instrumentality of law, including petitioning the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other offences Commission and other anti-corruption agencies on the matter, would recover every kobo “stolen.”
“Government will take very, very stern measures; we will recover every kobo that has been looted or stolen by the immediate past administration and in fact, the administration before it. Where it is established that there is a clear case of misappropriation or outright stealing of public funds, it’s an obligation, you don’t allow criminality to run roughshod on the rest of us because these are public funds.
“We must take steps, there’s no factor of fear or favour or ill-will; it is just the way the business of government must be conducted.
“We will take every measure; we will use every institution and go after everyone that has stolen Bauchi state’s money. We will pursue this case in the relevant institutions of recovery whether it is EFCC, ICPC, the constitution of a special recovery mechanism within the state; I can assure you, we will pursue these issues vigorously, rigorously and without let.”
Efforts by our reporter to reach out to the former governor’s spokesman, Ali M. Ali was unsuccessful, as several calls and a text message were not replied as at the time of going to the press.
However, it was gathered Ali told some journalists he was not aware of the allegation.
“I’ve not heard of anything like that so I will speak on it when I make my findings; but this is laughable. I will get back to you on that when I have done my findings.”