EBONYI State government at the weekend described as “unfounded” allegations by some stakeholders of mounting cases of corrupt practices in its local council system.
The Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy Matters and Rural Development, Celestine Nwali, who refuted the claims, stated that the activities of his ministry remain transparent and people-oriented even as he reiterated that the guiding principle of the Governor Martin Elechi administration “is emphatic on zero-tolerance for corruption and corrupt public officers”.
There were allegations by some stakeholders in the state that the Ministry of Local Government was receiving inducement of N1.5 million from council chairmen and coordinators of development centres to shield them from legal censure and with a view to glossing over their non-performance so as to perpetuate them in office.
But fielding questions from journalists in Abakaliki, Nwali disclosed that the local council system in the state had been above board as public officials know that they would be handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) for prosecution if found corrupt.
Disclosing that the EFCC operatives had been visiting the state on several occasions to meet with some public servants on graft-related matters, the commissioner added: “Any corrupt official will receive the boot from this government. The EFCC and ICPC is everywhere and in our own case, we have an outfit (the Ombudsman) put in place by the government to look out for corrupt officers. I think our officers are not corrupt and if some of them are, they have been visited by EFCC from time to time. We have zero-tolerance for corruption in Ebonyi State.
“I also urge anybody who has any allegation against me to report same to the EFCC so that they and I will go and face the EFCC. Don’t sweep it under the carpet, but I know these are wild allegations”.
Nwali explained that his ministry does not interfere with the process of selecting chiefs or kings. Rather, “what the ministry does is to play both advisory and supervisory roles during chieftaincy tussles so as not to be accused of imposing any leader on the people”.