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July 24, 2024

Abia Forensic Audit: Former Commissioner Kalu makes more clarifications, rubbishes report


Former Commissioner for Information; Trade & Investment under former Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu has made further clarifications on the controversial forensic audit report recently released by the government of Alex Otti.

Kalu who reeled out some of Ikpeazu’s achievements while in the saddle gave a blow by blow details on how the idea of an airport was conceived and executed.

The details were contained in a statement released to the media on Sunday.

See full details below…

“My attention has been drawn to a publication by “Whistler” Blog reportedly published by Governor Alex Otti’s ally and rumored designated successor, Chief James Chijioke Ume (Koos) of Abam in Arochukwu LGA of Abia State wherein they sought to continue the media attacks and trial against former Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, with same unsubstantiated claims first dished out in faraway United States of America by Governor Otti.

“I was a member of the Abia State Executive Council (Exco) and functioned as Honorable Commissioner for Information when the idea of constructing Abia Airport was first discussed during Exco meeting of 24th September 2020. Based on the presentation made to Exco, we approved the project and also approved the borrowing of N10bn from UBA Plc as initial investment by the state with repayment charged to our FAAC account with the bank. You may wish to recall that during the period the country was still struggling to emerge from COVID-19 pandemic with very low FAAC and IGR inflows across the states.

“With that approval by Exco the processes related to the project kicked off. The current Secretary to State Government who is an appointee of Governor Otti, Prof Kenneth Kalu, can review and confirm my claim from Exco records in his custody.

“Shortly after we announced Exco’s approval of the airport project, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu received in audience executives of Abia State Traditional Rulers Council then led by HRM Eze Joseph Nwabekee.

“On the 13th of November 2020, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu informed members of the state executive council about the details of his meeting with representatives of the traditional rulers in Abia State who requested that we suspend the airport project and commit the funds earmarked for it to doing more roads in the state as we are surrounded by airports already but need to urgently improve internal roads that would give a further boost to the socio-economic activities of the state. Exco thereafter voted to approve the suspension and request to use the earmarked funds for road projects in the state (Attachment 1).

 

“On the 17th of November 2020, Governor Ikpeazu took to his official X (formerly Twitter) handle to inform netizens that the airport project had been suspended (Attachments 2 & 3).

“Obviously Governor Ikpeazu must have informed the commissioner for Works of his intention to suspend the Airport project in anticipation of Exco approval, hence the State Ministry of Works selected road projects in our 2020 budget for funding with the N10 billion and allocated resources to the contractors.

“Ferotex Construction Company which is one of the reputable indigenous construction companies with anti-graft agencies’ clearance was selected by the Ikpeazu administration as lead company in the “contractor financier” arrangements with UBA (Attachment 4).

“This contractor finance arrangement is not alien within the public sector and you may wish to see a similar arrangement entered into by the Alex Otti government with Craneburg Construction Company for N50bn (Attachment 5) facility earmarked for “various roads”. Such lead companies are more or less consultants that would receive the bulk amount and pay other road contractors as banks would not likely agree to enter into multiple agreements with all the contractors.

“Some of the contractors and projects known to me that were paid from the N10bn include:

i. China Zonghghao for Osisioma flyover Aba & ABSUTH Road Aba – N800,000,000
ii. Trackcare Construction Company: for Aba-owerri road Aba (Brass to Osisioma junction segment, Ururuka road Aba, Afor Ibeji/ Ubakala Umuahia, Stella Maris Catholic Church, etc -N1,035,000,000
iii. Ferrotex: Aba-owerri road (Railway junction-Brass junction segment) Aba, Opobo Junction-Ukpakiri Ogbor Hill Aba,,Uratta Ugwuati, Itungwa -N1,500,000,000
iv. ⁠Sannan Jandon: Okigwe road Aba, Milverton road Aba, Cemetery-Eziukwu road Aba-N450,000,000
v. ⁠Ecklean: Osusu road Aba-N 200 000,000
vi. ⁠Cosmos Construction: Immaculate Avenue Umungasi Aba-N150,000,000
vii. Setraco/Hartland, Port Harcourt Road Aba, N1,000,000,000
viii. ⁠Rockwaters, Ohanku Road Aba, Okpu Umuobo Aba -N650,000,000
ix. MOW: Ebenma Street Aba, Ovom street Aba- N1, 130,000,000
x. ⁠Zubbalco, MBUBO Umuakwu,-N200,000,000
xi. Tunnel End: Umuene – Obikabia, Umuojima,- umuokiri- Ekeakpara, umuakatawom-Eziama- ohanze -N780,000,000
xii. ⁠Paceo Carretera: Agalaba Ring road-N312,000,000
xiii. ⁠Delhope: Umuobiakwa-Owo road, Obingwa, Federal medical center internal road, Aba road Umuahia (GG-shoprite) -N557,000,000
xiv. MOW: umuobiakwa internal roads,Nbawsi internal roads, Desilting of Aba big gutter – N325,000,000
xv. ⁠⁠BOK: Agbama Ring road Umuahia-N100,000,000
xvi. ⁠Crystalkleen: York/Jubile/Nicholas street Aba -N30,000,000
xvii. ⁠Pumeco Construction: Zero porthole along Umuahia roads -N353, 000,000
xviii. ⁠Yodel: Afrata road, Umuahia- N100,000,000
xix. ⁠E&P Contracting: Trinity college road Umuahia -N60,000,000
xx. Obitex development company Ltd: Ohuhu road from Isiokata, diversion from the gully erosion at isiokata to umuawa ohuhu to Nkwoegwu.-N125,000,000
xxi. ⁠Smutedge: Rehabilitation of failed portions Umuikaa-umuenne, -N200,000,000
xxii. Ministry of Public Utilities: Streetlighs -N100,000,000

“Kindly note that the listed tranche payments are not exhaustive as those were the only ones in my personal Exco note that I kept during meetings. It is also true that other tranche payments were made from other sources. The ministry of Works led by Elder Bob Ogu and Ministry of Finance led by Dr Aham Uko should be able to supply a more comprehensive list. Alternatively, the current administration can also track through the relevant Ferotex project acciunt.

“A serious audit investigation will simply seek to establish if the allocated funds got to the companies and also if the contractors did the work. Otti’s “ one of the top 3 audit firms in the world” failed to follow the money as expected of any audit firm, even the least ones.

“Those who claim that there was need for “virement” may be speaking out of ignorance in this case. The road projects were already in our approved budget hence no need for further house approval. All state revenues are expected to be used to fund state budget and from the time we had approval to spend on the roads instead of Airport there is, in my opinion, no further need for legislative approval.

“I am also confident that if there was any legal requirement for further house of assembly approval the management of UBA Plc must have demanded for and obtained it from government before disbursement of cash for the road projects. Whoever is interested in seeing such approval can contact UBA Plc. It is important to note that there was no draw down on the funds until November 26th 2020, when Governor Ikpeazu signed attachment 6, because the bank placed a lien pending when all the documentation was completed. This can be verified from the relevant UBA accounts by the Auditors and Otti’s administration. Indeed, the disbursements continued beyond January 2021.

“For the further education of those who verbalize terms they do not understand, virement is the process of transferring items from one financial account to another. In this case, the airport project and the road projects must both be in the 2020 budget before you can execute virement. I can personally not recall if the Airport project was in our 2020 budget as at the time it was approved by Exco or intended to be approved via supplementary budget, hence, I cannot speak to any necessity for virement through the House of Assembly. We never spent N10bn on any Airport project, so further debate in this direction is academic.ABIA MONEY WAS SPENT ON ABIA ROADS!

“As an active member of exco whose job was to coordinate information dissemination, I had access to some related documents to the allocation of funds for the road projects. See attachment 6.
“Any “reputable” audit firm interested in doing a good job could easily have tracked the payment of the N10bn to Ferotex and further to the other construction companies listed above that received payments and any other(s).

” It is on record that Governor Alex Otti ill-advisedly sacked senior civil servants in Abia State including Permanent Secretaries and Directors that worked with Governor Ikpeazu. Who then is the “ministry of works” staff that confirmed to the auditors that he/she does not know about the transactions? Obviously, it must be an Otti appointee who is doing the bidding of a master that is fixated on dragging his predecessor through the mud.

“For instance, I believe either Engr Ogbuokiri or Engr Okpara SC was the permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works when the projects under reference were executed. Otti sacked Okpara simply because he worked with former Governor Ikpeazu whereas he is in a position to give a response to the “top 3 audit firm” of Otti. That was how Otti decapitated continuity in governance in Abia State.

“It is a crying shame that a state Governor who subscribed to an oath of office is leaking forensic audit document paid for by Abia tax payers to a blogger rather than use official government platforms to publish same material. If that is not a misdemeanor and abuse of office, I wonder what else it is.

” It also speaks volume that Governor Otti is so ashamed of his own “forensic audit by “one of the top 3 audit firms in the world” that he couldn’t publish the full documents through Abia state’s official platforms such as Abia State Government website but rather chose to leak bits and pieces through a blogger and then threaten his predecessor, who is yet to see the report, with EFCC.

” I personally do not believe Governor ikpeazu should respond to a document published by an Otti’s blogger. He should wait till a copy of the forensic aisit report is given to him or officially published by the state government.

” Governor Alex Otti must know that at EFCC, people are given opportunities to respond to allegations against them as against a supposed forensic audit that never permitted the auditee to respond. Relevant financial transactions are monitored and actual projects inspected by EFCC.

“I am sure former Governor Okezie Ikpeazu will willingly respond to any invitation by the EFCC or any other legitimate anti-graft agency in the country after 8 years of meritorious service to his state. He is not afraid of answering any invitation to give account but surely EFCC will not be swayed by media trials orchestrated by a bitter political rival. They follow facts not fiction.

“At some point after leaving office, Governor Alex Otti will also have to give account of his stewardship and if he is succeeded by someone like him I can only pray that God will have mercy on him.

“Clearly, the Otti administration is in a hurry to bury the recent quarterly financial report analysis that showed multi-billion naira financial indiscretions including allocating billions of tax payers money to laughable sub-heads like “Research & Development” which was used to expend a humongous N3bn when we are not on our way to the moon and N890m for food and enjoyment at a time Abia workers are yet rir receive promised wage awards.

“Piecemeal leaking of doctored official government documents to a blogger will also not stop us from demanding that Governor Alex Otti stop operating like the Emperor of Abia State and allow Hon Aaron Uzodike to be inaugurated as the member representing Aba North State Constituency who has valid Certificate of Return issued by INEC. That Governor Otti has embarked on a personal mission of determining what constitutes justice by a law court is exactly what makes him an EMPEROR, not whatever I say or write.

“Finally, it is important to note that no well intentioned democratic leader with defined development agenda focuses on hounding his rivals through media trial and attempting to frame prominent opposition figures for incarceration at all cost simply because they disagree with him.

” Those clapping for Governor Alex Otti today must read the words of a certain Dr Alex Otti which he penned in an article titled “ Who Are You To Ask Me Questions?” It was published by Thisday Newspaper of 19th July 2021:

“What we find here is that in many cases, leadership turns itself into sit tight despots, threatening, insulting and bullying anyone who dares to ask questions and wants to hold it to any form of accountability. In the course of doing so, it believes that it would silence the people and plunder the patrimony without responsibility and with no consequence. It is, however, instructive that once the people keep quiet, they wittingly or unwittingly consent to the plundering of its resources and therefore are vicariously culpable, like Albert Einstein aptly stated above. The reason why leadership seems not to care about the people is because it can perpetuate itself in power by hook or crook irrespective of what the people do.”

XOur dear Governor Alex Otti, kindly listen to the famous government critic and opposition leader called Dr Alex Otti. Hold yoirself to higher standard of leadership than you are offering Abians today.

” All available facts show that Governor Otti created the Airport controversy and he is the one also fuelling it to divert attention from his numerous failures including poor management of Abia resources under his care, as can be verified from the recently published quarterly financial report authored by his government.

“Furthermore, Ferotex Construction Company is one of the contractors currently engaged by Governor Otti in at least 4 active projects sites in the state. His government reportedly also used Ferotex company for a recent contractor financier arrangement in billions of naira. That he has access to Ferotex and yet continued with this false narrative shows that he is simply being mischievous as against being gubernatorial.”





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