Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has been caught in a web corruption and diversion of public funds for private purposes four months after assuming office as the Governor in Nigeria's highest revenue receiving State. SaharaReporters investigation uncovered a multi-billion-naira mansion currently being built by the Governor in his hometown of Awa community in Onna Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
An investigation by SaharaReporters reveals that Governor Emmanuel started building the expansive mansion immediately after assuming office. The contract for the building project suggests that the Governor may have formally endorsed a powerful fraudulent cartel and corruption channel that was used by his predecessor and benefactor, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, to defraud the State of several billions of naira.
The contract for the multi-billion naira building project was awarded by Mr. Emmanuel to VKS Construction Limited, a construction firm owned by Mr. Onur Kumral, a Turkish national who several sources confirmed aided former governor Godswill Akpabio in siphoning public funds.
Mr. Kumral was formerly the project manager of another construction company, Ronesans Construction Nigeria Limited, a Turkish firm. SaharaReporters investigation revealed that this Turkish company is a subsidiary of Ronesans Holding in Turkey but had to be registered as Ronesans Construction Nigeria Limited when it first arrived Nigeria in 2014 on the invitation of former Governor Godswill Akpabio. The first contract awarded to the company in Nigeria was the construction of the Four Point Sharaton Hotel in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State.
He later left Renossans Construction Nigeria Limited and formed VKS Construction Limited.
Kumral is being assisted in the Governor's building project by one Engr. Oliver Ebong. Ebong is the owner of another company called Olkem Nigeria Limited which is basically into project consultancy. However, SaharaReporters has been told by credible sources that Engr. Ebong and Olkem Nigeria Limited are fronts for former Governor Godswill Akpabio, his elder brother Emem Akpabio, and a Mr. Don Etim who was the Commissioner for Works throughout the 8 years tenure of Akpabio as the Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
"Engr. Oliver Ebong and his company Olkem Nigeria Limited are fronts that was used by Godswill Akpabio, his brother Emem Akpabio, and Mr. Don Etim to loot billions of naira of Akwa Ibom funds. What happened was that the former Governor gave almost all the consultancy jobs for roads and other infrastructural projects and contracts of his government to Olkem Nigeria Limited which ran into several billions of naira.
"The cost of the consultancy contracts were usually inflated and returns were made to the former Governor, his brother and Don Etim. This fact was common knowledge within government circles", a source close to the former Governor told SaharaReporters.
On why the present governor Udom Emmanuel has sustained the fraudulent cartel? The source said it was not too surprising to those that really know Governor Emmanuel.
"What were you expecting? Udom Emmanuel is a very corrupt individual. Those of us that know him very well cannot be surprised by what is unfolding. For him [Udom Emmanuel] to build such mansion which is worth billions of naira within four months of his government shows that worse days are ahead for Akwa Ibom people. It is very annoying that Engr. Oliver Ebong and his cartel are back in business after making billions from the previous administration,” the source lamented.
When SaharaReporters correspondent visited the multi-billion-naira mansion in the Governor's hometown of Awa community in Onna Local Government Area, work was going on in full swing. An artisan working at the site who craved anonymity said that they have been given a mandate by the Governor to complete the work as soon as possible.
It is however not clear why the Governor decided to build such mansion in his hometown instead of Uyo the State Capital. But a government source in Uyo told SaharaReporters that the present Governor whose election is being fiercely challenged at the Election Tribunal is taking after Akpabio who had used Julius Berger Plc to build a mansion for himself in his hometown in Ukana community in Essien Udim Local Government Area.
He also stated Akpabio had established a culture whereby critical political and "inner caucus" meetings of Government were held at the governor's hometown in Ukana instead of the State Capital and that Udom Emmanuel is likely going to follow that precedent.
The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly on Tuesday 29th September, 2015 approved a N10 billion naira loan for Governor Udom Emmanuel. Civil servants are being owed salaries in the State. Despite the harsh economic situation in Akwa Ibom State, the government spent several billions on the 28th anniversary celebration of the creation of Akwa Ibom State, which took place on 23rd September. This is a direct opposite of the federal government independence anniversary celebration. President Buhari according to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation "reluctantly approved" only N70 million naira for a low-key independence anniversary.