In October 2013, the governor of Niger State at that time, Governor Babangida Aliyu, approved the purchase of 19 vehicles for the Department of State Services (DSS) in Niger State; to be funded through the SURE-P programme. Two years later, checks within the DSS command in Niger State revealed that some of the vehicles are no longer with them in Minna, the state capital. Many speculate that the former director of the service in Niger State, Larry Obiagwu, absconded with some of the cars when he was posted out of Niger.
On 23 September 2013, in a letter to Governor Babangida Aliyu of the PDP, Mr. Larry Obiagwu requested for cars “for operational effectiveness.” Whereupon Governor Babangida Aliyu approved the request on the same day. While approving, the governor stated that the vehicles should “be provided within the week.”
Two weeks later, on 7 October 2015, the commissioner for works and chairman of SURE-P implementation in the state, Muazu Mohammed Bawa, in a letter, reminded the governor of his approval and itemized the vehicles to be purchased to include:
1 Toyota Prado Jeep LLX 2013 at N13.6 million naira.
5 Toyota Hilux Pickups at N7.1 million each
3 Toyota Camry saloon at N6.2 million naira each and
10 used Ford Focus at N1.35 million each.
The total cost of the vehicles was stated as N81, 200, 000 (eighty-one million, two hundred thousand naira).
Many in the state and even some officers of the Department of State Services have been shocked by the revelation. This, they said, reeks of the corruption under President Jonathan led PDP administration where everybody did what they wanted without thinking of the consequences. “If it is true that Larry took the cars, Niger State Government should collect them back from him,” a top DSS officer said in Minna.
First of all, DSS is a Federal Government agency for which the FG holds the responsibility of funding. Although it is customary in Nigeria for state governments to donate equipment to Federal Government agencies, donating up to 19 vehicles in one transaction is a tad excessive. Especially when children in schools for which the state government was responsible were sitting on the floor, their schools lacked equipment and their teachers were not properly remunerated.
Following the changes in the service when President Buhari came into office in May 2015, the new leadership of the DSS first posted Mr. Larry Obiagwu from Niger to Kaduna State before he was finally retired from service.
However, this leaves many questions outstanding: were all the approved 19 vehicles delivered to DSS by the state government? If so, how many are left with the service? Is it true that Larry Obiagwu left with eight of the vehicles? If yes, would the DSS collect back the vehicles from Mr. Larry Obiagwu after sighting the evidence in this report? If the cars were not delivered, should the Economics and Financial Crimes Commission be asked to recorver the vehicles for the Niger State Government?