The Niger State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Haliru Zakari Jikantoro has been enmeshed in a scandal involving alleged missing 72 tractors belonging to 25 local government areas in the state.
Jikantoro had already appeared before the House of Assembly committee investigating the allegations on Monday.
The chairman of the investigative committee, Malik Madaki Bosso, representing Bosso LGA in the state assembly said the APC chairman was invited, having discovered during the investigation that he signed a memo that was approved by the governor with respect to the award of the contract for the refurbishing of the tractors.
The tractors were said to have been contracted to one Dogara Ga Allah Ventures for refurbishing and repairs when the APC chairman was commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs between 2016 and 2018 and were yet to be returned.
Bosso also said the current Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Abbas Bello, who was also in the ministry between 2015 and 2016, and former Chairman of Munya Local Government Area, one Yahuza had also been invited three times each for the role they allegedly played in the contract but had failed to appear.
He said while Bello initiated the contract when he was the commissioner in the ministry, the former Munya LGA chairman was alleged to have taken three of the tractors from the contractor.
The lawmaker said having invited them three times each, the committee would be forced to invoke Section 129 of the Constitution and issue a warrant of arrest against them.
The APC chairman, however, said the transaction was initiated in April 2016 before he was appointed as commissioner in December 2016.
He said: “I came to the Ministry for Local Government in December 2016 and then the consent had already been given to the contractor. In February 2017, the contractor came to me with a quotation for approval and processing. And there was a need for me to fortify the authorisation because there were some missing documents that he had to attach to the quotation which I didn’t see.
“So, I directed the permanent secretary to prepare a memo to be presented in our next Joint Account Committee meeting, which he did for me to be able to establish that the LG chairmen knew of the contract. A memo was raised to the governor and it was approved on condition that the consent of ALGON be sought,” he added.
Jikantoro said when he finally met with the then ALGON chairman who he said was now late, the deceased directed him to step down the contract due to paucity of funds to carry out the refurbishment.
He said there was no official letter between him and the contractor for any mode of payment until he left the ministry in 2018.
The Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) had earlier written to the State House of Assembly to investigate the whereabouts of the missing 72 tractors belonging to the 25 LGAs.
NULGE in a letter addressed to the speaker of the house alleged that the ministry for local government had in 2016 directed the 25 LGAs to submit their three tractors each to a contractor for refurbishing, which they did but the tractors were not seen six years after and no explanation had been given on their whereabouts.