If the decision by President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate all constituency projects carried out by lawmakers in the last 10 years is anything to go by, Senator Francis Alimikhena should be topping the list in the country, primarily over the alleged diversion of funds allocated and released for his nominated constituency projects in 2017.
Information made available to SecretReporters reveals that in 2017, Senator Francis, representing Edo North Senatorial District nominated various projects to be carried out in his constituency worth over N380,000,000 as seen in the 2017 budget. However, almost two years after the release of funds for the projects, it was alleged that the money released for the execution of these projects were diverted by the Senator into his private pockets as the supposed beneficiaries of the project are unknown.
One of the projects we gathered, was for the Advocacy and Sensitization on the Rights of Children and Women in Etsako East LGA, Edo North Senatorial District at the tune of N100,000,000 (One Hundred Million Naira). From the proposed sum, it was revealed that over N63,910,000 (Sixty Three Million Nine Hundred and Ten Thousand Naira) was released for the project in 2017.
In the same year, another project for the Sensitization/Training and Strategic Empowerment of Youths and Human Right advocacy in Etsako East LGA, worth N150,000,000 was also nominated by the Senator to be carried out in his constituency with N99,537,375 (Ninety Nine Million Five Hundred and Thirty-Seven Thousand Three Hundred and Seventy-Five Naira) release for its execution.
A project for the Sensitization and Strategic Empowerment on People Living with HIV/AIDS in Etsako East LGA, Edo North Senatorial District, Edo State at a jaw-dropping sum of N130,000,000 (One Hundred and Thirty Million Naira), with over N86,215,500 (Eight Six Million Two Hundred and Fifteen Thousand Five Hundred Naira) released for its execution was also in the bullion bag of projects nominated by the Senator who has been in the red chamber since 2015.
In further indicting the lawmaker, from a letter written by the National Human Rights Commission, dated 13th September 2018 with reference number NHRC/ADM/690/II/392, in response to a letter written by BudgIT Foundation requesting the actual amount released by the Federal Government on the project, it was gathered that 70% of the total amount was released to the lawmaker for the execution of the projects.
The letter reads “Please note that the amount released by the Federal Government as at June 2018 was in two installments. The first was 50%, while the second was 20%, totaling 70% of the total amount allocated for the project”.
Surprisingly, with the total amount released for the projects amounting to over N192,143,875 (One Hundred and Ninety Two Million One Hundred and Forty Three Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventy Five Naira), the Senator who claimed to have executed and delivered the projects to his constituents could not provide any information regarding the supposed beneficiaries of the projects.
With no verified evidence coming from the lawmaker’s camp, many Nigerians are of the opinion that the actions of Senator Francis Alimikhena may have just shown that lawmakers in the country have converted constituency projects otherwise known as Zonal Intervention project to conduit pipes through which they surreptitiously funnel public funds into their pockets to the detriment of their constituents.
When contacted on his mobile number 080*****84 via SMS, Senator Francis Alimikhena replied that his projects were all over Edo North, “They speak for themselves. There is no need to tell you that the amount you are quoting is not correct”.