Information Minister Lai Mohammed has been attacked yet again by one Anti-corruption Group claiming the minister has been stinging NBC and 14 other agencies and commissions under him for loans all along.
The group formed by public servants said in a press statement Sunday that the N13.2 million Mohammed took from the NBC was not the first of its kind since he became minister.
“Indeed, the leaked NBC solicitation was the 3rd this year alone,” the group claimed in the release signed by one Garba Mohammed Tukur.
“The fact is that long before the recent media leak, stories of the minister’s profligacy in the ministry were legion, ranging from his persistent fleecing of the ministry’s recurrent account, ostensibly for tours of media houses, and his frequent solicitations for money from virtually all the 15 parastatals under his charge. “
The minister has been defending the leaked memo asking the corporation to cough up the money for its official trip to China on May 15.
“It’s not unusual when the ministry wants to do something but you don’t have enough funds you ask one of your parastatals under you to provide the funds for the trip,” he said just after the internal memo hit the public domain.
According to him, he officially can tap any of the parastatals to give him the money until the ministry gets its funding to pay back the loan.
Mohammed, roiled by the leak, also said he’s been up against entrenched interests in the NBC, and those toes on which he has stepped are the ones making an issue of the memo. After all, President Muhammadu Buhari, he said, was aware of the China trip.
“So the leakage of the loan memo to NBC was a case of corruption fighting back. I think the Minister and his team are also underestimating the danger of what they are doing,” the Nation wrote May 16, quoting a top source in the NBC.
According to the pro-APC newspaper, it was one of the directors in the cabal that snapped the memo with his phone, and sent it to Sahara Reporters which broke the story.
But the defence seems too weak for many Nigerians who have carpeted the minister for doing that in a government that likes to be perceived as clean.
For instance, the Anti-corruption Group said no director can authorise such an amount of money without notifying the accountant-general of the federation.
The civil servants insisted the NBC loan was a case of corruption, and a lot more will be unfolding in the ministry.
“Public information and anti-corruption agencies must allow Alhaji Lai Mohammed’s excesses to be swept under the carpet.”