A West African Community Parliament, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS Parliament), is caught up in a planned diversion of funds.
The Parliament is a forum for dialogue, consultation, and consensus for representatives of the people of West Africa with the aim of promoting integration. And was established under Article 6 and 13 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty of 1993.
Investigations show that the ECOWAS Parliament under the leadership of Mr. Moustapha Cisse Lo’, the former Speaker perfected plans to misappropriate the sum of N900 million meant for building the Parliament secretariat.
Mr. Ike Ekweremadu, the former Speaker ECOWAS Parliament facilitated the release of the money by Mr. Goodluck Jonathan, the former Nigerian President in 2012.
A senior staff of the parliament told MAWA Foundation in a telephone conversation; Goodluck Jonathan gave the money to ECOWAS Parliament in 2012 to build a secretariat.
Since 2012, the ECOWAS Parliament is yet to get approval from the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) to build the secretariat.
As an insider source that is part of the ECOWAS management, told MAWA, the norm is that since the ECOWAS Parliament could not utilize the money for the purpose it was meant for, it ought to have refunded the money to the Nigerian government. And, anytime they are ready to build the secretariat, they will re-apply for the money.
As I speak to you, this norm has been disregarded, as Mr. Cisse and Mr. Nelson have moved the N900 million from Zenith Bank to UBA Bank. And I can assure you the secretariat will not be built the insider source told MAWA.
Another senior staff of the Parliament said the transfer of the money from Zenith Bank to UBA was facilitated by Mr. Nelson, the Secretary-General who is a signatory to the account.
The plot is to domicile the money in a bank so it can be generating interest and when they feel the money has been forgotten they will share it with senior staff members.
Another insider source in a telephone conversation told MAWA that Mr. Yusuf Lasun, and Mr. Sha’aba Lafiagi, are aware of the N900 million given to ECOWAS by Jonathan and wondered why they have not asked the Parliament to refund the money since they cannot build the secretariat years after.
Mr. Nelson did not respond to several phone calls and WhatsApp messages.
Miss Uche Duru, the Communication Officer ECOWAS Parliament, denied comment on the matter.
Miss Uche said she would not speak on the matter since she does not have any knowledge of the deal.
Other senior officials of the Parliament also declined to speak.
However, one source said corruption is nothing new in ECOWAS Parliament, pointing to how Mr. Nelson is working with National Assembly members who are members of the ECOWAS parliament to run the Parliament in breach of established rules.
Our sources also claimed there are “ghost” workers in the Parliament, for example, he accused Mr. Cisse of bringing two ghost drivers who have been collecting salaries every month even as they are not ECOWAS staff.
We are yet to see the two drivers that draw monthly salaries from the Parliament account. Cisse should be made to refund the salaries that were collected by workers that never existed in the first place. One of the sources said.
Ghost workers are non-existent names listed on the payroll to enable dubious officials to pocket their salaries and benefits.
When MAWA sought the response of Yusuf Lasun and Sha’aba Lafiagi regarding the matter, they declined to comment.
A text message sent to Ike EKweremadu was not responded to.