Iraqi regional governor suspended over corruption

Nofal Agub faces charges of fraud, corruption, kidnapping and torturing three journalists

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Iraq’s prime minister Haider Al Abadi on Thursday suspended the governor of Nineveh for two months over corruption and damage to public property.

Baghdad's central government has faced significant challenges over corruption  since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003.

The head of Nineveh’s provincial council, Bashar Al Kiki, said 21 members of the council had requested the suspension of governor Nofal Agub "due to intimidation and corruption charges.”

Mr Agub faces charges of fraud, corruption, kidnapping and torturing three journalists after they shed light on his charges.

“The representatives of Nineveh’s provincial council submitted a number of lawsuits to the parliament, accusing the governor of stealing money allocated to displaced Iraqis, for forming an abusive Popular Mobalization Unit and for personally receiving salaries allocated to those units from the federal government,” said Mortaja Al Jaaf , a spokesman for the prime minister.

The prime minister had set up a special committee to investigate and monitor those legal cases. "It turned out that all of these allegations were true, the most notable was the abduction of journalists,”  Mr Al Jaaf said. “The prime minister ordered the governor to be referred to the authorities to prove his liability of any corruption charges or violations of human rights."

In November, Nineveh’s provincial council ousted Mr Agub, but Iraq’s federal court overturned the  decision.

Mr Al Abadi called for a crackdown on corruption after Iraq was ranked 166 out of 176 nations in Transparency International’s Corruption Index of 2017.

Meanwhile the Kurdish prime minister, Nechirvan Barzani  on Thursday said his government was “ready to discuss the issue of Kurdish airport control”.

Iraq's central government imposed a ban on international flights to the Kurdish region and threatened to take control of border crossings after Kurds overwhelmingly voted for independence in the September 25 referendum.

"Haider Al Abadi is using the travel ban as a tool to punish the people of the Kurdistan region," Mr Barzani said in Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.The

Iraqi aviation authority said that military, United Nations, diplomatic and humanitarian flights were allowed to operate "subject to approval."