Benue indigenes want EFCC to hasten its investigation in Okupe alleged looting.

Posted: August 17, 2012 in General

A call has gone to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to hasten its investigations into Dr. Doyin Okupe’s alleged looting of Benue State treasury to the tune of N635.7 million during the George Akume administration.
The call came from Benue indigenes who described Okupe’s recent appointment as Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan, as a misnomer.

A public affairs analyst, Igbakura Atom, who spoke with Daily Independent on the issue, alleged that Messrs Value Trust Investment Limited, which had Okupe as Chairman, was said to have secured a road contract valued at N2.303 billion covering 230 kilometers of rural road.

The specification of the contract, according to Atom, showed that the roads were to be completed within 18 months using rummy soil stabilisation.

He said 30 per cent of the mobilisation fee, amounting to N619 million, was paid to Value Trust Limited, and the contractor moved to the site and started work, while more money was allegedly released as work progressed.

The total amount that was paid to the contractor, he alleged, amounted to N886.8 million as at July 17, 2006.

The contract was allegedly abandoned, with the total amount of work done valued at N195.7million.

Another Benue citizen, Echechofu Ondaje, maintained that the state’s Ministry of Works issued series of notices to the contractor to resume work.

On each occasion, Okupe was said to have promised to go back to work, but failed to do so.

Ondaje said the state government, under Dr Gabriel Suswam, made efforts at recovering the money from Okupe, but to no avail, stating that only N55.2 million of the advanced payment guaranteed by the bank was recovered.

Daily Independent investigation at the Ministry of Works, Makurdi, confirmed that the contractor, after collecting the sum of N886.8 million for 230 kms of rural roads, abandoned the site.

Ministry officials, who pleaded anonymity, said series of meetings were held with Okupe to make him return to the site and continue with the work, but “each time we met to persuade him, he would promise to go back only to disappoint”.

The sources added that on Okupe’s failure to go back to site or return the balance of N635.7million to the government, he was dragged to EFCC.

It would be recalled that during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2004, at the ministry’s conference hall in the presence of newsmen, Dr Okupe told journalists that the rummy soil stabilisation was a new way of constructing durable rural roads.

Some of the roads earmarked at that time for construction included, University of Agriculture-Gbamjiba, Sankera-Ayati-Sai, Aliade-Obarike-Ito and a host of others.

Ondaje, who said Jonathan had promised during the campaign that he would fight corruption, called on him to reverse the appointment given to Okupe.

He emphasised that Okupe’s appointment was an invitation to people of questionable character to destroy the country and the president’s efforts at waging war against corruption.

When George Akume was to leave office, he constituted a judicial commission of enquiry into failed contracts, but the report was later thrown into the dust bin.

No one knows what happened to the money allegedly collected by Okupe’s company, which traces were not seen immediately Akume left office in 2007.

There was controversy on whether the company should be dragged to EFCC until the Suswam administration took the matter to the anti-graft agency.

There may be no end and answer to the protest against Okupe’s appointment and the question being raised as on who recommended him for the top job.




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