Why female council boss was suspended

Hon Mrs Nkechi Chukwurah.

Hon Mrs Nkechi Chukwurah.

Exactly sixteen months after she was sworn in, the Delta State House of Assembly has suspended the Ndokwa East Local Government boss, Mrs. Nkechi Chukwurah, over allegations of high-handedness and embezzlement of public funds.

Chukwurah, one of the four female chairpersons in the state, was accused of refusing to render the income and expenditure of the council resources, since she was sworn in, on November 17, 2014, amongst other allegations.

Her travails, believed to be a fallout of her emergence as the chairperson of the council, started on March 4, 2016, when the Leader of the council’s legislative arm, Mr. Matthew Uzoka said 11 of the 15 Councilors had suspended her, over allegation of financial impropriety and for sidelining them in the affairs of the council.

Uzoka, who stormed the House of Assembly in Asaba, in company of his colleagues, had insisted on the suspension of the council boss, whom he accused her of high-handedness and embezzlement of public funds.

However, the Minority Leader of the council’s legislative arm, Mr. Godstime Egworabor, faulted the move by his colleagues. He pointed accusing fingers at a top lawmaker in the Assembly, who he insisted is behind the chairperson’s woes,

Egworabor said it was the height of legislative immorality to suspend the council boss when the House never deliberated on the income and expenditure statement prepared by the executive arm. “If you look at the present economic situation, it is so bad that nobody talks about misappropriation. Where is the money coming from? Somebody is behind the present crisis.”

Egworabor disclosed that during his last encounter with his colleagues last year, it was crystal clear that the particular state lawmaker had been playing a negative role in the legislative arm, openly boasting that he has 70 per cent of the lawmakers, so they can do anything, they can abuse the natural process and go free.

But Chukwurah has since denied the allegations, insisting that she never touched the council’s funds since her assumption of office.

She also denied giving out revenue collection contracts to her family members, as alleged by the councilors, noting that all the council chairmen engaged revenue consultants from Lagos State to boost rate of remissions to the councils’ coffers.

According to Chukwurah; “I did not give out any revenue collection contract to anybody. In fact, all the councils in the state have given the contract to some consultants from Lagos State. We all unanimously agreed to give it out so that we can get more proceeds, because we discovered that the people we give locally were under-remitting, in fact, most of them do not pay to the council.”

She expressed shock that after the committee heard from her and the councilors on Wednesday, March 16, she was suspended the following day.

Defending its decision, the chairman of the House Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Mr. Azuka Azaka (Ndokwa West), who moved the motion for Chukwurah’s suspension, said the suspension order became imperative to enable the committee investigate an impeachment notice sent to the house by some councilors.

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