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Forensic Audit: How We Spent N10bn Airport Fund – Ikpeazu

Immediate past governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has said that contrary to the allegation of his successor, Alex Otti, the N10 billion budgeted by his administration for the Abia Airport project was neither embezzled nor diverted.

Ikpeazu said the money was rechannelled into other projects following the approval of the State Executive Council (SEC), after traditional rulers in the state, told him to forget the project but focus on repairing major roads in the state.

According to him, traditional rulers had argued that the airports in Owerri in Imo State and Uyo in Akwa Ibom State made an Abia airport project unviable.

The former governor, who spoke through his then commissioner for information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, asked Otti to stop playing to the gallery and tell Abians the truth with documents at his disposal.

Okiyi-Kalu gave a detailed account of the roads and contractors that received the N10 billion initially marked out for construction of an airport and listed about 18 projects that were done, in place of the airport.

According to his list: “China Zonghghao for Osisioma flyover Aba & ABSUTH Road Aba got N800,000,000. Trackcare Construction Company for Aba-Owerri Road Aba (Brass to Osisioma junction segment, Ururuka road Aba, Afor Ibeji/ Ubakala Umuahia, Stella Marris Catholic Church, etc got N1,035,000,000.

“Ferrotex Construction Company for Aba-Owerri Road (Railway Junction-Brass junction segment) Aba, Obohia Road Aba, Opobo Junction-Ukpakiri Ogbor-Hill Aba, Uratta Ugwuati, Itungwa, Rehabilitation of failed Ururuka got N1,500,000,000.

“Shannah Jardon Construction Company for Okigwe Road Aba, Milverton Road Aba, Cemetery-Eziukwu Road Aba got N450,000,000. Ecklean: Osusu road Aba-N 200 000,000, Cosmos Construction Company for Immaculate Avenue Umungasi Aba got N150,000,000 while Setraco/Hartland for Port-Harcourt Road got N1,000,000,000.”

Further details are “⁠Rockwaters for Ohanku Road Aba, Okpu Umuobo Aba got N650,000,000, MOW for Ebenma Street Aba and Ovom street Aba got N1, 130,000,000. Zubbalco for MBUBO Umuakwu got N200,000,000.”

Other details showed that “Tunnel End Construction Company got N780,000,000 for the construction of Umuene-Obikabia, Umuojima-umuokiri- Ekeakpara, Umuakatawom-Eziama-Ohanze while Paceo Carretera company got – N312,000,000 for the construction of Agalaba Ring Road in Obingwa.”

From the same details, it showed that ⁠Delhope Construction Company got N557,000,000 for the construction of Umuobiakwa-Owo Road Obingwa, Federal Medical Centre internal road, Aba Road Umuahia (GG-Shoprite).

It was also gathered that MOW construction got N325,000,000 for the construction of Umuobiakwa internal roads, umuobiakwa (Gov) roads, Mbawsi internal roads and desilting of Aba big gutter while ⁠⁠BOK construction got -N100,000,000 for the construction of Agbama Ring Road Umuahia.

„Crystalkleen Construction for York/Jubilee/Nicholas street Aba got N30,000,000, Pumeco Construction for Aba road (Uchenna/ShopRite) Umuahia, Zero portholes in Umuahia roads got N353, 000,000, while Yodel construction for Afrata road, Umuahia got N100,000,000.

„⁠E&P for Trinity College Road Umuahia got N60,000,000 and Obitex Development Company Ltd for construction of Ohuhu road from Isiokata, diversion from the gully erosion at Isiokata to Umuawa Ohuhu to Nkwoegwu got N125,000,000.“

More details provided show that Smutedge Company got N200,000,000 for the rehabilitation of failed portions of Umuikaa-Umuenne, Pacon Company got N12,000,000 for completion of drains at Ozuomba/Ohazu Road.

„MOW Company for Zero potholes (Aba) got N 100,000,000, Charbel Company for Government House got 400,000,00 and the State Ministry of Public Utilities got N100,000,000 for Streetlights.“

Okiyi-Kalu, who later served as a commissioner for trade and investment, said it was shocking that after a demand was made for the publication of the much-talked about audit, Otti and his media handlers rushed to a blogger to publish an indicting report against his former principal instead of the forensic audit report.

He admonished Otti to focus on governance and stop deceiving the people with “lies and fiction”.

Ikpeazu, who spoke against the background of a report that his government awarded a N10 billion contract for the construction of an airport in Abia without doing same, insisted that Otti was on clout- chasing and deceiving gullible people with the alleged forensic report he conducted on Abia finances.

In a statement made available to journalists yesterday, Ikpeazu said Otti was diverting attention from the quarterly reports of Abia State, which showed that his government had been reckless with funds.

Ikpeazu said, “Accounting for the N10 billion, no dime was diverted. Otti is diverting attention from his own quarterly report which captured him spending N3 billion on research and non-existent projects. Why is it that he is using the same Ferrotex contractor, who he accused of receiving N10 billion from us for major contracts today? What stopped him or his auditors from asking Ferrotex for explanations? We have decided to respond to him with evidence of jobs done. The time of truth has come.”

Providing an insight into the spending of the money, Okiyi-Kalu said since Otti became the governor of Abia State, Ferotex Construction Company has been awarded the Umuimo Road, Shalom Road and Umuode Road all in Aba.

“Currently, Ferotex Construction Company is equally handling 22.5 kilometres Isuikwuato-Abariba section of the 67.6 kilometres Umuahia-Uzuakoli-Abiriba-Ohafia Road, which is Otti‘s biggest road project in Abia State,” he said.

Okiyi-Kalu said the airport project issue first came to the Abia State Executive Council at a meeting on September 24, 2020.

He said based on the presentation made to the Exco, they approved the project and also approved the borrowing of N10 billion “from UBA Plc as an 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 the COVID-19 pandemic with very low FAAC and IGR inflows across the states,“ he said.

Okiyi-Kalu said the current secretary to state government (SSG), who is an appointee of Otti, Prof Kenneth Kalu, can review and confirm his 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 November 13, 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 do 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.“

He said on November 17, 2020, Ikpeazu took to his official X (formerly Twitter) handle to inform Abia citizens that the airport project had been suspended.

Okiyi-Kalu said Ikpeazu must have informed the then commissioner for works, Elder Bob Ogu, of his intention to suspend the airport project in anticipation of Exco approval, hence the state Ministry of Works selected road projects in Abia 2020 budget for funding with the N10 billion and allocated resources to the contractors.

He, however, explained that the list containing the tranche payments was not exhaustive as those were the only ones in his personal Exco note that he kept during meetings.

He said that it is also true that other tranche payments were made from other sources, stressing that the Ministry of Works led by Elder Bob Ogu and the Ministry of Finance led by Dr Aham Uko back then, should be able to supply a more comprehensive list to what he was saying.



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