- Says figures over inflated to soothe ego, gain cheap popularity
- Urges media to verify reports from both sides before publishing
- As unconfirmed, unsubstantiated reports capable of causing chaos
- Reiterates that the Unity of Nigeria as a nation is non-negotiable
The Civil Society Groups for Good Governance, CSGGG on Wednesday, condemned publications by two major media platform indicting the then Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola of illegal payment of ₦4.6 billion into the personal accounts of some officials.
Comrade Ogakwu Dominic in a press statement, made available to newsmen, described the action of the platforms as a malicious attempt to tarnish the good image of Babatunde Fashola , cause chaos and mislead Nigerians.
Ogakwu in his text is of the opinion that the media as watchdog of the society should embrace the need to tow the path of confirmation, balancing perspectives in its reportage instead of being biased just to gain popularity and gain more audience. He reiterated that getting clarifications and disseminating the appropriate information is key and the unity of our Nation is non-negotiable.
His statement read in part: “Our Organisation, Civil Society Groups for Good Governance, CSGGG, an assemblage of over 180 civil society organizations totally committed to advocating for patriotism, truth, fair hearing and improvement of knowledge that will guarantee standards at all levels of services delivery; A voice and accountability platform that consciously breed transparency and neutrality, have taken keen interest in and have observed with staggering consternation the recent publication by PremiumTimesng and SaharaReporters on 16th November, 2020, themed: INVESTIGATION: Authority Stealing: How Fashola’s ministry illegally paid ₦4.6BN into officials‘ personal accounts and How Ministry Headed By Ex-Lagos Governor, Fashola, Illegally Paid ₦4.6bn Into Officials’ Personal Accounts, indicting and dragging through the mud the Ministry of works, power and housing headed by Babatunde Fashola in allegations of paying over N4.6bn into 21 private accounts of staffs in the ministry.
“First of it is very imperative to note that the role, the media can play as watchdog of the society is indispensable, hence the urgent need to also remember that information’s should not be published until adequate research is made and its coherence and completeness are achieved, because misleading reports is capable of creating chaos, causing panic and hatred which could be detrimental to national development.
“The above assertion is premeditated on the fact that as the Fifth estate of the realm and as an organization averse to dishonesty, subterfuge and other sharp practices, we have duly made a research and carried out an independent investigation into the allegations above-mentioned, and it is on this note that we have decided to let the media in on the facts, and also to decry the constant mis-report against the person of Fashola during his time in office as the a Minister of Works and Housing, who was accused of paying into accounts monies amounting to Four Billion Six Hundred Million. It may interest you to know that Olasehinde Micah, Ogueri Ugochukwu Pascal, Oluwadare Festus Oluwatayo, Adekunle Ogunfadebo and Ahmad Mohammad, were all projects accountants of the Ministry accountants of the Ministry, and monies paid into their accounts was to finance different government programmes making the accounts official accounts as it was tagged “Projects Account”; a situation which was even consented and appended by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation an official letter.(Documents to be provided upon request).
“Furthermore, on the issue of right of way which is the legal right, established by usage or grant, to pass along a specific route through grounds or property belonging to another, and contrary to your representation published in the media space, appropriation before us for every recovery of right of ways nationwide is 2.3 billion naira and 700 million naira was cash. This is to mean that there was no extra budgetary expenditure as claimed by the mediums. In addition to this, the funds were transferred electronically to the beneficiaries’ in line with the e-payment guidelines and extant rules. Project account was merely used because the payment platform does not recognize these beneficiaries. A project accountant does not need to be at different locations at the same time to transfer funds to approved beneficiaries or the committee members that goes to the locations.” He added.
Ogakwu who also revealed that the Minister Babatunde Fashola, had personally answered to all the anti-graft agencies interrogating the matter, urged journalist to be abreast and completely open with how government financial transactions works or are operated especially, as it bothers on projects accountants, before running in to file in unconfirmed stories for publication just for public applause.