The director-general of Media and Publicity in the Office of the Kogi State governor, Kingsley Fanwo, has stated that Alhaji Sadiq Mohammed Rabiu, chairman of the State Pilgrims Board’s travails was not unconnected with allegations of fraud and dehumanising treatment of pilgrims from the State to this year’s Hajj.
In a chat with journalists in Lokoja on Sunday, the governor’s spokesman said Rabiu’s travails stemed from allegations of corruption, nepotism and blatant disregard to the welfare of the state’s contingent to this year’s pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
According to him, the governor set up an investigative panel to probe the activities of the Muslim Pilgrims Board chairman after receiving complaints from the pilgrims who were subjected to dehumanizing conditions in Mecca.
“It would be recalled that the Governor made adequate provision for Pilgrims who performed this year’s Hajj in the Holy Land of Mecca. But to his surprise, contingents from Kogi State were subjected to dehumanising conditions.
“Consequent upon receipt of various complaints of fraud against the chairman, Governor Yahaya Bello set up an investigative panel to probe into the activities of the Board in relation to this year’s Hajj exercise. Startling revelations have come out.
“It has been established that Pilgrims from the State were kept in substandard hotels in Mecca, prompting many of them to sleep outside the hotel. Also, many of the Pilgrims were shortchanged by the chairman of the Board.
“The decision of the Chairman of the Board to discreetly include his relations and friends on the pilgrimage while hiding same from government is also at variance to the policy of the present administration in the State which place emphasis on accountability, probity and transparency.
“In view of this and the determination not to protect any office holder who soiled his or her hand in corruption, the Governor has directed for the immediate suspension of the chairman and he has been handed over to operatives of the Directorate of State Security Service for further investigations and possible prosecution if enough grounds are found for that”. He said government will rely on legal advice on the reports of the investigations by the security agencies.
Fanwo said the administration of Alhaji Yahaya Bello is poised to address the issue of corruption with “absolute seriousness in order to checkmate the effect of corruption on the development of the State”, insisting that the fight against corruption “is by all for all.”
“Corruption is corruption no matter who is involved or when it was perpetrated. The decision of the Governor to set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate the finances and administration of the past shows the readiness of government to fight corruption to a standstill in the State.
“Allegations of witch-hunt will now be silenced by the Governor’s action of investigating even his own appointees. I urge the people of the State to cooperate with the present administration to fix the state. The Governor has also restated his commitment to developing the State through heavy investment on infrastructure while overhead cost will soon be drastically slashed”.
The Director General said the contractors handling the different road projects recently awarded across the three Senatorial Districts of the State are already mobilizing to site and hopefully, work will commence soon. Assuring the people of rapid development.
“Governor Yahaya Bello is guided by his well-thought out development plan encapsulated in the New Direction Blueprint for the development of the State. He is ready to leave a massive legacy of unprecedented development.
“Let us cooperate with the contractors and assist the State Government efforts at developing the State. Governor Yahaya Bello is working hard to ensure progress and development of the State”.