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Date Published: 05/03/10

ONE MAN SQUARD

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 Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi and Timi Alaibe are behind the protests in Baylesa State by Kentebe Kenigbolo

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A fortnight ago, I wrote a Rejoinder on why the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Rt. Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi on the claims made by a faceless group called Bayelsa Patriotic Professionals. The rejoinder among other posits: This rejoinder is a response to the tissue of lies paraded by a faceless body called The Bayelsa Patriotic Professionals (BPP) about the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Rt. Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi. Obviously, the group might have been paid to defend the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, but the writers appear to be very poor argumentative essayists. Instead of doing some damage control, the so called Bayelsa Patriotic Professionals, has worsened an already bad situation for the Deputy Governor. For once, let us speak the truth and put the thieves to shame.  

The Group claims that the allegations levelled against the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State were all lies but did not address any of them. On the contrary, the groups blames political jobbers for the thievery of the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, who has been in power for about 10 years, through their clandestine activities to cast aspersions on innocent persons in their desperate bid to blackmail them. The truth is that it is very difficult to capture how the Deputy-Governor, His Excellency Rt. Hon. Peremobwei Ebebi has robbed the people of Bayelsa State. However, the preceding pages will throw some light on what the man has done to Bayelsa State.

Recently, there have been series of protests in Bayelsa State and Abuja.  My investigations showed that two Bayelsa people are behind these paid protests. They are Chief Timi Alaibe - former NDDC Managing Director, and the Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Peremobwei Ebebi. Investigations further revealed that the two are nursing sentiments that the Acting President and the State Governor are from the same Senatorial District. They have entered into an unholy alliance to take the Governorship of Bayelsa State by force.

My informant who claimed anonymity disclosed that monies running into about two hundred million naira was spent to pay youths to embark on protests in Yenagoa and Abuja. The conspirators allege that Governor Sylva and some members of his Cabinet are corrupt and therefore want the EFCC to probe the administration. Here, I will highlight very briefly the activities of Rt. Hon. Peremobwei Ebebi for the whole world to judge whether, as one of the longest serving politicians in Bayelsa State and the generally acclaimed richest politician in Bayelsa State, he has the right to throw stones, living in a glass house. The second article shall be devoted to Chief Timi Alaibe, who used his official position at the NDDC to amass wealth at the expense of the people.

W e live in a world where society worships material wealth rather than God. Corruption has supplanted morality in public life. A group of activist had a brainstorming session on the subject matter to resuscitating the economy of Bayelsa State. Amidst the session, we were elated to hear that the Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly had pronounced as illegal, null and void the Due Process Bureau, with an inexperienced Director General. It was even most gratifying that a non-performing Legislative House, which has abandoned its oversight functions could to rise to the challenge of nullifying the composition of a Bureau that was devoid of legitimacy- a Bureau which only mandate is to spend the tax payers money to hunt for ‘ghost workers’. One of the activists bellowed, ‘the House should go further to probe the activities of the fraudulent Due Process Bureau; their dubious biometrics exercises, the contract values and the credibility of contractors’. If found guilty, they deserve to be jailed, another retorted!.

As the debate gathered momentum, we started to x-ray the politicians and how some of them have used their public offices to acquire stupendous wealth for themselves. In the debate, we factored-in people who have worked hard to save money on their own for investment. We also took account of people who have, by dint of hard work generated money for business with a view to making quick returns. We focused on politicians who have no record of private or public experience, who make money through illegal means such as corrupt enrichment, embezzlement of monies allocated for the execution of public contracts, fraudulent diversion of resources, and primitive accumulation.

It should be recalled that since the Federal Government through the National Assembly passed the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC Act of 2004, the anti-graft body was statutorily empowered to cause investigations to be conducted as to whether any person, corporate body or organization has committed any offence related to economic and financial crimes. EFCC was also conferred with powers to cause investigations into the properties of any person if it appears to the Commission that the person’s life style and extent of the properties are not justified by his source of income. We are seriously concerned that if this trend is allowed to continue, your Commission would lose the battle against corruption.  

We used three indexes for measuring the richest politician in Bayelsa State. These indices include: longevity of occupying political offices, Strategic nature of the office and physical property acquired by the individual. Physical property in this context include: houses: hotels, exotic cars and other tangible assets. The first criterion of longevity in office made us to remember a man who in May 1999, started his political career as a Member of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, later contributed to the impeachment of the Speaker and thus was rewarded with the plum position of Speaker and later became the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State – a position he has retained since the time Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was Governor of Bayelsa State. The man is reputed to be the richest politician Bayelsa State has ever produced.  

The serving Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi  became a Law Maker representing Ekeremor Constituency II is believed to be a survivalist hence he has betrayed several of his masters in pursuit of money politics. His actions are guided by some veneer and uncontrollable penchant for primitive accumulation and self-aggrandizement. First he is believed to have collected an undisclosed amount of money in bribes to facilitate the impeachment of his erstwhile boss (now)  Senator Heineken Lokpobiri in rather unconstitutional manner. He was then rewarded with the post of a Speaker. 

As Speaker, most members of the House accused him of high handedness as he sidelined a section his the members loyal to the former speaker and rewarded his loyalists with awarded sundry contracts to himself without Due Process. People have raised alarm that if the contracts awarded during that period are investigated, it would reveal the degree of fraud and stench in the House. Some describe him as Judas Iscariot of sort because of his tendency to betray people for monetary benefits and power.  

Sometime last year an advertorial on the EFCC to investigate Hon Ebebi for owning about Fifty Houses (50) in strategic locations only in Yenagoa. But whether the anti-graft commission heeded this call is yet to be determined. Informed sources disclosed that he has property worth more than N15 billion Naira in Yenagoa, Port Harcourt and Abuja. More than 83 percent of those interviewed by this writer responded in the affirmative that Ebebi is the richest politician in Bayelsa State. In Port Harcourt, Hon. Ebebi owns 2 Housing Estates and dozens of houses built with the stolen money from Bayelsa State. Ebebi also has about some filling Stations in Yenagoa and in Benin and more than 4 Houses in Calabar, Cross Rivers State. Ebebi has also made substantial investments in stocks and bonds. His wife Mrs. Tikere Ebebi deliberately stopped the building of a multi-million naira hotel at BayBridge Road in Yenagoa because of petitions written by some Yenagoa-based pressure Group to EFCC. Ebebi himself own LATIK HOTEL at INEC Road is one of the most expensive in Yenagoa. This is not to mention the stupendous monies stashed away in several accounts at home and abroad. All these properties are not disclosed to the Code of Conduct Bureau. As a Pubic officer, he executes contracts against the law, but he is a legal practitioner. One may then ask: What kind of rule of law are we pontificating? 

Only during the Timipre Sylva administration, Hon. Ebebi has taken estacode many times to travel abroad for medical check-up, but on collecting the money he never embarked on the trips. It is ridiculous that a highly placed Government official could be so petty as to short-change his medical check-up for monetary benefits. This is not to mention the embezzlement of monies given to him for Constituency Projects. Informed sources say, even his kinsmen are not happy  with him because he might have married his late elder brothers wife. That is the mean pedigree of the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State. 

The Deputy Governor raped the 24  Local Government Councils that existed at the time of the Jonathan administration. He accomplished this by illegally deducting N5 million from each of the 24 LGAs. He extended the same fraudulent attitude to the 8 federally recognized LGAs and their resistance almost led to litigation. The monies acquired fraudulently was reported to have been was used to buy large expanses of land and other landed property. What the ordinary man in the streets of Yenagoa cannot dispute is that Hon Peremobowei Ebebi is one public officer who milked the Local Governments and stagnated their development against the will of the people, even before Governor Timipre Sylva came to power.   

My investigations further revealed that when Governor Goodluck Jonathan proceeded on a 7-day leave and  Ebebi-the Deputy Governor held proxy for the Governor. The sum of N3.2 billion was misappropriated in the form of frivolous contracts awarded to members of the House of Assembly without due process. Authentic sources say the Present Speaker Rt. Hon. Werinipre Seibarugu learnt his lessons from him when he allegedly embezzled N27billion when he was Ag. Governor  with the 30 days  Governor Timipre Sylva’s election was annulled by the Court of Appeal. In the words of Karl Kraus Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual, the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country. What bothers this writer is: Why have well-meaning Bayelsans not taken the Deputy Governor to the EFCC for investigations? It has often been said that power corrupts. But it is perhaps equally important to realize that weakness, too, corrupts. Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. Hatred, malice, rudeness, intolerance, and suspicion are the faults of weakness.

In Bayelsa State today, there are concerted efforts at entrench transparency and accountability as the basic conditions for good governance. There is now in place the Public Procurement Law and the Fiscal Responsibility Law, but unfortunately the Deputy Governor, who is a Lawyer knows nothing about transparency and fiscal discipline. It is understandable why Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi cannot explain the source of his stupendous wealth and massive estates. An aide of the Deputy Governor who would rather prefer anonymity said if four persons like his oga could pool their resources together, Bayelsa State would have no business resorting to the bond market for financing heavy projects. 

Finally, by the provisions of the EFCC and the powers invested on it, EFCC should meticulously investigate and prosecute Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi based on the weight of allegations contained herein. The time has come for the whole world to know the truth about the richest politician in Bayelsa State I also believe he is too rich to be probed by EFCC. Although Mrs. Farida Waziri has promised to crush toes the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State could be an exception because he may be above the law.  

Riches or wealth are not evil in themselves but when they are acquired at the expense of the people, it assumes the ugly connotation of corruption, embezzlement , self-enrichment and In this hypothetical universe there may indeed be the rich and powerful but they may exist simply as the cream on a perfectly appetizing cake.  The rich, "the affluent" have rarely been seen as problematic.  Yet, the rich - in so far as they have power, and, in so far as they set standards - are substantial points of reference that our social system holds out before us. About a weeks ago, a Commissioner in the State resigned and there are two more Commissioners to go on allegations of corrupt enrichment. The economic hardship harassing the State is self-inflicted by the highly placed people in government. We must make a collective resolve to shun corruption and properly apply the resources to resuscitate the economy.  

Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi has a lot to hide from the civilized world in terms of his corrupt activities, and what has been pointed out is just a few conspicuous instances of corruption. If the EFCC has not weakened its potency to carryout its statutory functions, this is the time to beam a searchlight on Hon. Ebebi and investigate the sources of his ill-gotten wealth at least, to prove to Nigerians that there are no sacred cows in the crusade against corruption. Bayelsa State cannot be thrown into bankruptcy because of the self-aggrandizement a few individuals. The nearly N300 million Naira Rt. Hon. Peremobwei Ebebi collected as ESTACODES for foreign trips ha never made and did not account for are also worthy of investigations. 

Before Ebebi joined politics, how many thousands of Naira was he worth? How come the man jumped into instant wealth? How many reasonable men would acquire more than 50 houses in the same town? The Deputy Governor is an unrepentant kleptocrat and the allegation against Peremobowei Ebebi are an understatement. He has embezzled more than people think. For now, he is the richest politician and the greatest thieving politician in Yenagoa. The EFCC, needs to investigate such allegations against highly placed  government officials to fulfill the promise of crushing the toes of corrupt Nigerians. I believe that Farida waziri is not ready to fight corruption. If EFCC is desirous of fighting corruption, certainly Rt. Hon. Peremobwei Ebebi is one politician in Bayelsa State that should be investigated NOW. 
 

Kentebe Kenigbolo, is a Postgraduate Student of the University of Ilorin  
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