The governor of Kogi state, Yahaya Bello, has sacked the chairman of the State’s Muslims Pilgrims Welfare Board, Sadiq Rabiu.
The spokesperson of the governor, Kingsley Fanwo, said Mr. Sadiq was sacked over allegations of fraud and dehumanizing treatment of pilgrims from the state to this year’s Hajj.
In an interview with journalists in Lokoja, Sunday, Mr. Fanwo said the governor set up an investigative panel to probe the activities of the Muslim Pilgrims Board Chairman after receiving complaints from the pilgrims.
“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,” he said.
The former chairman was also accused of discreetly including his relations and friends on the pilgrimage while hiding same from government.
Mr. Fanwo said the action of Mr. Sadiq was at variance to the policy of the present administration in the state, which places emphasis on accountability, probity and transparency.
He also said the suspended chairman has been handed over to security agencies.
“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.”
Mr. Fanwo said the administration of Mr. Bello was 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,” Mr. Fanwo said.