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Democracy: It’s criminal for states to misappropriate LG funds- Ex Gov. Chime

Dbchimee

The former Governor of Enugu State, Mr Sullivan Chime, says it is criminal for states in the country to misappropriate local government funds, saying that it hinders development at the grassroots.

Chime stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Enugu while reacting to how far Nigeria has gone with her democracy after 25 years.

He said that any governor who ran the local government system without a democratically elected council, as stipulated by the Nigerian constitution, amounted to misappropriation.

According to him, Nigeria has a perfect local government system, as the constitution empowers states to make laws for the existence of local governments under a democratically elected council.

“But sadly, I don’t know how many states in this country since 1999 that obeys that constitution.

“I can beat my chest that from 2007 when I became governor until we left, we ran a local government system in Enugu State by the democratically elected council uninterrupted for eight years.

“When we came in, there was none in place so to meet the requirements of the law, we had transitional government, as we came in May 2007 and by December same year, we held our first local government election.

“And from that December 2007, it was held every two years until we left office in 2015,” he said.

He explained that council chairmen under his administration built paved roads because they had access to their money.

“So it is a criminal for states to misappropriate local government funds, that is, states dealing with local government funds other than the system provided by the constitution,” he said.

The former Enugu governor observed that the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) was not up and doing in arresting former governors who failed to conduct council elections, which had resulted in the country being a mess.

He added that if one or two former governors had gone to jail for misappropriating local government funds, the serving governors would take caution.

“Federal Government is wasting money to take serving governors to Supreme Court over Council’s funds. Send one or two former governors to jail or all who did not observe the law, and it will stop.

“We don’t need any reform but implement the law as it is and even the Supreme Court that has course to make pronouncement on the illegality of caretaker committee, yet it is going unabated,” Chime said.

On calls for INEC to conduct LG elections, Chime said it would be difficult for the commission to handle it.

He said that states had the capacity to run the council election in accordance with the law, saying, “if you feel SIECs are not performing, take them to court.

“The INEC you are rushing to conduct the election, are they any better?” Chime asked.

The former governor, however, congratulated Nigerians on 25 years of uninterrupted democracy and prayed for a better Nigeria under President Bola Tinubu.

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