Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief Dave Umahi, has suspended the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Mr. Samuel Okoronkwo and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry for compromising the state’s borders amidst the fight against the spread of coronavirus in the state.
Also suspended were two local government chairmen and traditional rulers.
Announcing the suspension of the political office holders, Umahi who spoke through his Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Uchenna Orji said the Commissioner and Permanent Secretary will be without salaries through out the period of the suspension while the affected local government chairmen and traditional rulers would be placed on half salaries.
“Illustratively, the governor was on routine monitoring visit to Afikpo North and Ivo Local Local Government Areas on Saturday, 9th May, 2020 between the hours of 6.30 p.m. and 12 midnight and noticed compromise by the public office holders, COVID-19 Task Force, traditional rulers and Town Union Leaders at the borders and entry points, thereby giving way for the passengers from epicentre states to come into Ebonyi State unchecked.
“The governor personally intercepted over ten passenger vehicles with over 50 passengers coming from Abia, Rivers and Lagos States.
“Even the few Task Force members seen on the road took bribes and allowed the passengers to pass. The governor therefore had no option than to arrest those taking bribe at those borders and they are currently cooling-off at the COVID-19 Holding Centre in Abakaliki.
“The Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy Matters and Rural Development is to immediately account to the governor before Wednesday morning, 13th May, 2020, the monies released to each of the Local Government Councils for the Anti-Coronavirus Programme.
“The governor is considering reviewing of all appointments to ensure the retention of only those persons who have the capacity and will to sustain this fight to save our people from the scourge of coronavirus pandemic.
“The governor is perplexed by the attitude of some security officials whose check-points are used to pass people into Ebonyi State despite all our efforts to motivate them in their professional duties especially in the face of this pandemic.
“All political appointees especially State Executive Council members are directed to move and secure their communities and ensure there are no more leakages at their borders.
“All Development Centre Coordinators in Afikpo north and Ivo Local Government Areas are hereby suspended from office effective, Sunday, 10th May, 2020. They are to handover to member-one in their respective Development Centres including their official vehicles.
“All political appointees from those two Local Government Areas are to remain on half salary until normalcy is returned, including all traditional rulers from Afikpo North and Ivo Local Government Areas.
“The Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy Matters and Rural Development and the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary are to serve one month working suspension without salaries and if there is no improvement in the running of the Local Government Areas, they will be removed” the statement said.