Tue. Sep 17th, 2019

Lawyer Petitions EFCC Over Akpabio’s N204bn Abandoned Projects

Uyo – An Uyo-based lawyer, Itorobong Michael Umoren, has petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over N204 billion projects abandoned by former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio,

The lawyer claimed that this fund was appropriated for over 11 strategic projects in the state.

The petitioner said Akpabio, during his administration as governor, awarded series of outrageous and white elephant contracts.

He added: “It is worthy of note that most of the projects so awarded and money paid in full had, before the intervention of Governor Udom Emmanuel, became death traps due to abandonment of the projects by the contractors on reasons of non-availability of funds for either completion or to even kick-start the project.”

Umoren listed the affected projects, with the sum appropriated and released but not executed, to include Ring Road, 111, N35,064,607,382,00; Uyo-Ikot Ekpene road, N71,559,177,414.89; Etebi-Enwang Road, N19,188,603,159.29; Oron Urban, N9,025.042,262.31; dualisation of Eket-Ibeno Road, N29, 449,542,135.32; construction of Uyo Afaha Nkan, Ikot Nseyen -Nkwot-Nung Ukim Road, N4,818,956,342.70.

Others include construction of roads in Ikot Ekpene, Essien Udim, N1,980,000,000.00; rehabilitation of road in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, N17,035,656,789.22; Operation Zero Potholes in Uyo Senatorial District, N1,700,000,000.00; rehabilitation of roads in the state, N1,000,000,000.00, and construction of roads in Essien Udim, N42,708,475,662.44. Total: N204,505,018,885.17.

The petition forwarded by the legal consultant to the EFCC, copied the presidency, the Independent Corrupt Practice and other related offences Commission (ICPC), and the Code of Conduct Bureau.

The petition made available to Daily Independent with the title, ‘A petition against the uncommon fraudulent act of Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON, in the construction of roads in Akwa Ibom State during his tenure as the Executive Governor of the state’, alleged that series of contracts awarded by Akpabio during his tenure as governor were either totally abandoned or partially completed.

Taking on the Uyo-Ikot-Ekpene road project, for instance, the petitioner said, “It is on record that on the 19th December, 2011, the then governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio, awarded a contract to Julius Berger (Nig) Plc for the dualisation of the 25 kilometres Uyo-Ikot Ekpene road to the tune of N28,394,575,803.22 with reference no: GO/FGPC/S/6/VOL.XIX/1026.

“Available document has it that the contract was to be completed within 24 months and 40%, that is N15.3 billion, of the contract sum was to be paid in favour of the contractor for mobilisation.

“From the records, the sum of N2.3 billion was set aside for compensation of persons whose property were marked for demolition.

“But sadly, though the money was approved and disbursed, none of the affected persons got compensated and the construction was abandoned.

“Records also have it that on the 12th September, 2013, the estimated cost for the dualisation of the said road was reviewed and N23.5 billion was added, this brought the total contract sum to N51.9 billion. The reasons necessitating the review of the contract sum from N28.3 billion to N51.9 billion was not stated.

“Similarly, on the 25th July, 2014, the Akwa Ibom State government approved additional work in respect of the dualisation of the said road with the following descriptions: Section from Ch.23+000 to city centre Incl. Roundabout. (Ii) Flyover to the tune of N19.4 billion.

“N71.3 billion was released for the execution of the project. It is unfortunate to say that the contractor abandoned the project due to lack of funds, which is to say that the funds did not get to the contractors.

“The project, which was hurriedly commissioned in 2015, at kilometres 15, at just a wearing course, and without side drains, did not achieve up to 50 percent completion.”

Touching on the abandoned Etebi-Enwang Road in Mbo Local Government Area, currently being undertaken by the present administration of Udom Emmanuel, the petitioner noted, “The sum of N19.1 billion was paid for the construction of Etebi-Enwang road in Mbo Local Government Area.

“Notwithstanding the fact that the contract sum was paid in full, the project was never executed.

“I want to bring to your notice that the said company, SIGOENG Construction Limited, was floated by the wife of the then governor, and available record shows that the said amount was paid in full to the bank account operated by the wife of the then governor, Mrs. Ekaete Unoma Akpabio.

“This is against the provision of section 1 of the Code of Conduct for public officers which provides that ‘a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflict with his duties and responsibilities.’”

The legal practitioner who also queried the allocation and release of N42.7 billion for construction of roads in Essien Udim (Akpabio’s home town) to STEMCO, said the project, in addition to questionable cost for construction of community roads, was not open for bidding.

“From the foregoing, it is crystal clear that there were series of fraudulent transactions in the award of contracts for construction of roads in Akwa Ibom State during that administration.

“Most of the projects were abandoned by contractors for lack of funds even after funds meant for the execution of those contracts were approved and disbursed in full.

“We, therefore, urge you to use your good offices to cause a thorough investigation to be carried out on this issue,” he said.

The petition dated November 1, 2018 and addressed to EFCC, was received, stamped, and signed by the commission on November 9, 2018, for expected action by the commission established to check all forms of financial crimes and other issues of embezzlement of public funds.

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