Governor clears Commissioner of allegations of N300m fraud, theft

The Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, on Thursday cleared his Commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism, Jonathan Vatsa, of allegations of fraud in the award of contract for the construction of the state Radio and Television digital transmission studios in Minna.
The Commissioner was also alleged to have stolen broadcasting cables purchased by the previous administration of the state in a petition forwarded to the governor by a security agency, although the petitioner was not made public.
Bello was said to have raised the matter at the State Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, where it was agreed that he should lead an investigative team to the sites of the contracts and ascertain the veracity of the petition.
After the inspection of the projects, the governor was said to have discovered that the obsolete equipment and cables claimed to have been stolen were actually packed in a store within the premises.
He also discovered that the N600 million contract sum was for both the Radio and Television transmitters and other transmission equipment and not for one station as claimed in the petition.
Bello was told by the contractors handling the projects that the television arm was awarded at the cost of N300 million, while that of Radio also had N300 million and that the obsolete equipment were purchased at the cost of N400 million by the previous administration.
Speaking with journalists after an on the spot assessment, Governor Bello said his unscheduled visit to the stations was based on the petition against his Commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism.
According to him: “From the information I have gathered so far, the commissioner is cleared.
“You know my people are known for writing petitions.
“I have embarked on this fact finding visit based on a petition against my commissioner in respect of the installation of new transmitters for the TV and Radio stations.
“I have discovered that the cables are intact contrary to claims that the commissioner has packed them away.
“I am satisfied with the work of the commissioner and have directed him to ensure the speedy completion of works.”
The governor, while expressing satisfaction with the progress of work on sites of the projects, gave Vatsa a clean slate and urged him to ensure that the projects were completed for commissioning in December this year.

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