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Alleged Extortion: Abak Council Chairman Debunks Media Report

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*says it’s a misrepresentation of facts

The chairman of Abak Local Government Transition Committee, Hon Emmanuel Udosen has debunked a recent report making the rounds of some social media platforms, making fraudulent allegations on the chairman with particular bothering on extortion of money from indigenes and residents of the area.
In a statement signed by the Chairman and made available to our news room, the chairman noted with sadness, the careless misrepresentations contained in the reports.

Reacting to the report he admitted was an ongoing development misdirected and escalated with very sentimental contents without any attempt to investigate and seek balancing from all factions concerned, Hon Udosen stressed that the report came to him with grave shock, as he was initially forced to think that the sanitation project which was aimed at favouring all and sundry in the area has been mismanaged by those he assigned to manage it.
While acknowledging the fact that the blame of every failed government usually goes to the head, the chairman maintained that any attempt on investigating the matter would have put the reporter whom he described as a young promising lawyer, on the know that the sanitation project was not handled by him.

According to his statement, Hon Udosen hinted that as the Chief Executive Officer of the area, he was only briefed of plans concerning the sanitation which after proper and wide consultations and subsequent proof the project will be of much good and benefit of the people, he had to endorse it, as it was to him, a boost to the “Abak must be clean campaign” earlier launched by his led-transition committee.

Also, Hon Udosen stressed that his main reason for approving of the refuse management aid project was because it was not an initiative of the committee but that of the indigenes who brought it up during an enlarged stakeholders meeting convened by the Supervisor for Environment in his led LG committee- same whom he had assigned the responsibility of managing and coordinating the project.

Speaking to newsmen in Abak, the Supervisor for Environment, Hon Ntieneke Abia gave his version of the story which affirmed the contents of the release.
In his words, the supervisor said that the Emmanuel Udosen led transition committee shortly after being officially inaugurated, was charged by the state governor on the sanity of Abak area. And this, according to him, spurred the chairman to quick action by had kickstarting their programmes with the total cleaning and restoring of sanity in the area topping the list.

This, according to him, began with a daily cutting of grass in every surrounding and clearing of gutters which had become very filthy in Abak. He hinted that records had shown to them that the gutters in Abak had not been in the last ten years. This, he said, gave them more reasons to tackle the issue with aggression but that the council had undertaken that task in the first two months and still doing it without charging a fee for it, adding that the chairman had done so well in this aspect such that the governor had to commend him on the success recorded so far within the short space of time.

He hinted that despite the financial cost of engaging heavy trucks and tractors for the sanitation purpose which happens on a daily basis in the area, there was no attempt by the council to place any charge on the indigenes for this purpose.
He stressed that despite the efforts, the committee still observed that some indigenes were through some indiscriminate actions, frustrating these efforts and making public ridicule of it.
This, according to him, prompted the enlarged meeting of stakeholders where the issue was raised and condemned. And touched and inspired by the good intentions of the chairman as was revealed to them, the indigenes then came up with the suggestion that a scheme be adopted and managed by the council to help them (both residents and shopkeepers) manage refuse disposal, and this, according to him, was after they had attributed the reckless acts to lack of dump sites in the area.

After a few suggestions, Hon Abia continued, the indigenes agreed in one voice that if the council provides for them a scheme that will be collecting refuse bins at their shops and residents, they will be able to afford a monthly levy of N200 for shopkeepers, and N500 for residential premises boasting of up to ten and above residents.
The said amount, he maintained is not a fee for the cleaning of the area, but that for collection of refuse bins at residences and shops in the area.

His words: “even as I speak, we are yet to collect a dime from anybody for this purpose, even after the council had taken it upon themselves to sponsor the refuse management project for the first month, in other to be acquainted with the costings and see where subsidies can be provided by the council to ease financial burden on the indigenes.
“The demand notice that was contained in the publication was only a notice to the indigenes that after the one month free sponsorship, the council had seen him okay to begin collecting the levy on a monthly basis but with an option of advance payment for those who can afford same”.

Hon Abia also stressed that the issue of levy collection on sanitation purposes and refuse management is no new thing, even as the constitution in the fourth schedule of the 1999 constitution as amended, empowers local government authorities to collect such rates and levies as their necessity arises as part of internally generated revenues, and same, according to him, is going on in other areas of states, especially in market places and heavily congested business environments.

He further expressed disappointment over the attempt to cast aspersions of the chairman by dragging him to the centre of the issue, even without proper efforts to hear from the council.
“Whoever is the source of the information contained in the report must have had bad intentions in his mind, and possibly sponsored by some ill-intended person or group of persons, if not, he would have contacted the council for proper briefing where he did not understand, or gave the true side of the story to the reporter who apparently got misinformed by him. This is quite sad, Hon Abia added.

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