NIGERIA: WHY EFCC MUST PROBE EX-NIGER DELTA GOVERNORS
Edo State: From information shared with Niger Delta Budget Monitoring Group, NDEBUMOG, Regional Accountability Center, former Governor Lucky Igbinedion of Edo State traveled to Canada on January, 2007. Precisely, he arrived in Toronto on the 4th of January, 2007, and was picked up at the airport by one Peter Omorogbe- a well known Nigerian real estate agent. During his stay in Canada, he also had dealings with another Nigerian and his very good friend, one Osa Osunde.
He, Lucky Igbinedion went on to checked- into the prestigious Fairmont Royal York hotel at No 100 Front Street, W (down town) Toronto. “His Room was 8277, an executive suite that has two bedrooms ensuite and a reception/living room which can sit 25 guests at once”.
Available information shows that this particular (Fairmont Royal York) hotel (which Lucky Igbinedion checked-in) is home to the Queen of England anytime she visits Canada. Sources proved that the suite where he lodged “cost about $1099 dollars per a night”. Nigerian Insider sources was further quoted as alleging that “ after checking-in, the former Governor in company of Osa Osunde and Peter Omorogbe ( the real estate agent) left to inspect some houses he (Lucky Igbinedion) had just acquired and to inspect a couple more he intended to further buy” then.
This source informed NDEBUMOG further that, in September 2006, Lucky Igbinedion had acquired 8 units of properties in a high brow condominium complex within Toronto. The said apartments were allegedly purchased by Osa Osunde through Peter Omorogbe. The purchases are said to have coincided with the Edo World Conference held in Toronto in September, 2006. Osa Osunde, one of Igbinedion’s right hand men also attended the conference. Sources further alleged “about three (3) properties were paid for between 4th and 6th of January 2006, with the closing deals handled by Peter Omorogbe” at shadowing Lucky Igbinedion.
Further, it was gathered that the next day, precisely, the 5th of January 2007, Lucky Igbinedion continued his property inspection and concluded some additional financial transactions with Osa Osunde and Peter Omorogbe. The reservation for the former Governor’s suite at Fairmont Royal York hotel was made in the name “Hon” Lucky Igbinedion, 33 Muskoka Street, Brampton. This address is traceable to Peter Omorogbe and was listed under his business name. Omorogbe is fingered to be engaged in real estate business and principally associated to former Governor Lucky Igbinedion who also listed Omorogbe’s phone numbers on his transactions.
Totally, the former Governor’s bill at the hotel was $3, 641.97 at checked out on the 6th of January, 2007, of which he paid with an American Express Credit Card.
Going by these and with further curiosity on why the former Governor blanked his American Express Credit Card number allegedly to shield these transactions from public scrutiny, NDEBUMOG demand that, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should urgently invite Lucky Igbinedion for questioning at unraveling the legitimacy or otherwise of these transactions.
Badly, Edo State had received more than an estimated N200 billion from the Federation Account/CRA and from excess crude spending during when he (Lucky Igbinedion) presided over the affairs of the State. But, Edo State has nothing to celebrate his reign as Governor, since even Benin City (the State capital) is the most chaotic, unplanned, and unorganized State capital in the entire South- South geopolitical entity of Nigeria. The chaotic nature of Benin City makes blood pressure of motorist passing through Benin City seemingly restless, but with a great relief now as having to appreciate passing through the new Benin bye-pass enrouting Lagos or Abuja in avoiding his chaotic city. Yet, there he was ……………………….
The EFCC should therefore invite Lucky Igbinedion to give his stewardship-accountability on how he expended the State monies, including circumstances and otherwise of choice properties he acquired in Canada and other locations around the world.
RIVERS STATE: Former Governor Peter Odili owes explanation to Rivers people on how he expends an estimated N900 billion which accrued to the State from the Federation Account and the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the State during his tenure. Infrastructurally, Rivers State is supposed to compete with any modern European City, but regrettably; all the towns and Port Harcourt City in the State can only be referred to as celebrated- slums in spite of the huge revenues accruable to the State.
Generally, we are aware the failure of responsive governance in Rivers State is a subject of investigation by the EFCC. Notwithstanding, some Expenditure Line Items (ELIs) in the Rivers State 2006 Budget needs further scrutiny.
CAPITAL EXPENDITURE (SUMMARY)
- No 465/2 – Energy and Natural Resources--------------------------N4 billion
- 461/3- Youth, Employment & Empowerment------------------N1 billon
- 461/4- Local Government, Chieftaincy & Community Dev—N500 million
- 462 - Ministry of Water Resources-------N2.8 billion (Where is the water?)
- 463/1- Environment & Ecology----------N2.8 billion ( Floods are everywhere)
- 467 - General Admin (Proper) ------------N5.8 billion (Whaoooo!!!!!!!!!!)
- 467A- Miscellaneous Capital Item (Purchases)—N4.6 billion (Whoop!!!!!!!!)
- 467B - Security Vote (Government House) --------N5 billion (War budget?)
- 468A- Establishment of Spare Parts/Mechanic VillaN1.5 billion (Where is it located?)
- 468A/1- Establishment of New Int’l Market---------N1.5 billion (Where is it located?)
- 468/B1- Contingency Funds ---------------------------N1 billion
- 468B/2 – Investments----------------------------------N 7 billion (Where? Tinapa….)
- 468C- Special Projects, Tech/Industrial Park-------N 10. 6 billion (Where?)
- Power had gulped N17 billion in 2005, N29.9 billion in 2006, and yet, large part of the State remains without electricity and with the State projecting another N62 billion for Power Supply under the Medium Expenditure Framework (MTEF) 2006-2008.
- 458/6 (4) - Fencing of COE Ndele CampusN15 million (2005), another N75 million in 2006, with yet, another projected expenditure on fencing the same school alone under MTEF (2005-2008) at N225 million.
More, renovating and furnishing of a Guest House gulped N200 million in 2005, yet, another N98 million was budgeted for this particular Guest House in 2006, with over N150 million still projected for same Guest House under MTEF (2006-2008) and projected at N150 million.
The Spare parts market/mechanic village (location being scooped) having already gulped N1.5 billion in 2006 had another N 1 billion allocated to it in the 2005 budget and bringing the gross total for this single project to N2.5 billion, with same on the New International Market (location untraceable yet) totaling the two project at about N5 billion within 2 years.
Poorly, tracking or identifying these Expenditure Line Items (ELIs) at “finding the money” is an impossible task for ordinary citizens in Rivers State, since layout and expenditure items in the budgetary document are at most lines lumped together in aggregation on figures and difficult to even an expertise deflator.
The EFCC must therefore trace how expenditures on the above budgetary line items were made. This is the cries, tears and sorrows of millions of our poor people who go to bed without food each night. They demand justice and not plea bargaining.
AKWA IBOM: In 2005 (the year NDEBUMOG was founded), staff and volunteers of our group individually contributed their widow’s mite towards voluntarily and independently touring, tracking and scooping the 100 projects which former Governor Victor Attah of the State had called for drums of celebration about. NDEBUMOG identified and tracked some of the projects. However, the standards and conditions of the projects didn’t warrant the rented dances about it all. Till date, NDEBUMOG Regional Accountability Centre couldn’t compute or trace the exact figures which the said projects had cost the people of the State.
Akwa Ibom also remains the most difficult State in the Niger Delta where free public information on Public Finance is hoarded and guarded jealously as a “secret”. Such is a negation to the principles of NEEDS and SEEDS. Moreover, in line with the public alarmed NDEBUMOG signaled about some projects which had concerned former Governor Victor Attah. We further demand that, the EFCC should invite former Governor Victor Attah for questioning at investigating the following projects in the State. The former Governor also need to tell the EFCC from which fiscal year he crafted these projects into the State fiscal budget (?).And when was the AIEs/Cash Warrants backing the expenditures beginning to flow? Who were his Commissioners that received the AIEs/Cash Warrants?
- Akwa Ibom State Five Star Hotel- cost re-evaluation needed.
- Akwa Ibom State Airport- Ndon Ebom
- Akwa Ibom State University of Science and Tech
- The Science Park.
The EFCC need to further investigate if the present Governor Godwill Akpabio tempered with Council funds during his tenure as Commissioner for Local Government Affairs in Akwa Ibom State, as such would help tracking sources where the present Governor of the State financed his political campaigns from. Such an investigation should be extended to his former principal ( Victor Attah), especially, to ascertain if the former Governor acquired properties abroad within the past 8years, with the main focus on how much the former Governor is really worth in his wife country at the Caribbean.
BAYELSA STATE: On September 2006, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was reported to have seized about $ 13.5 million dollars from the wife of the former Governor of Bayelsa State and now the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Mr. Osita Nwajah of the EFCC was quoted by the media as saying “Mrs Jonathan allegedly laundered the money through an associate”.
Again, the EFCC sometimes back had obtained a court injunction temporarily freezing about N104 million it said Mrs Jonathan had tried to launder through one Miss Nancy Ebere. Information was that, the said Nancy Ebere implicated Mrs Jonathan.
Then, an aide to the then Governor (now Vice President) denied Mrs. Jonathan’s involvement in the money laundry saga. But NDEBUMOG is not aware if Justice Anwuli Chikere defreezes the N104 million it freezes earlier (?). The EFCC needs to further inform Nigerians about investigations on the alleged $13.5 million dollars linked earlier to Mrs. Jonathan. Was the money released and has the investigation ended?
Importantly, considering the fact that the wife of the Vice President had rebuffed and refuses to submit to public pressure at disclosing how much she is worth therefore means Nigerians would continue to treat her with suspicion. For the sake that Mr. President had disclosed the assets value of his wife has further placed a moral burden on the Vice President to do same. Silence over it is politically suicidal.
We must commend the EFCC on fighting the battle for millions of Nigerians who are being suffocated by poverty. We are following information at ascertaining who were the clients of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice at ascertaining if actually any of the former Governors he is trying to protect were his private client before he joined government.
Conclusively, we are using this medium to draw attention of the National Judicial Council (NJC) on the very urgent need to caution, rebuke and warn Judges who are dishing “restraining order” and injunctions against arrest of former Governors in the Niger Delta. Such Judges are declaring an unprovoked- war against millions of our suffering masses in the Niger Delta who are victims of corruption. The Judges are also promoting the tide for “resource curse” in our region which the resultant consequences are fatal and destructive.
A stitch in time saves nine!