A N350 million scam involving top Delta State government officials and one Mr. D. O. Nwachukwu, cousin to governor of Delta State, Mr.Ifeanyi Okowa, has been uncovered. Others involved are Mr. Festus Ovie Agas, Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and Mr. Jaho Adams, Secretary, Board of Survey On Unserviceable Assets, and other top government officials. The fraud, SaharaReporters gathered, was executed through the ongoing auction of unserviceable assets in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the state.
SaharaReporters reliably learned that following the decision to dispose the unserviceable government assets, Mr. Okowa appointed his cousin, Mr. D.O Nwachukwu, founder of Nwachukwu Auctioneering Services, to handle the disposal of the items. These include vehicles, power generating plants, hospital equipment, electrical appliances, computers, furniture, beds, generators, Marcopolo buses and machinery across the state.
Sources close to the exercise disclosed that the governor's cousin, SSG, Mr. Adams and others have been duping interested buyers. A prospective buyer told SaharaReporters that many willing buyers have paid for items, which have not been delivered to them. Those in charge of the disposal have been giving out the items to relatives, families and friends. Items like vehicles, and generators were given to the relatives of the governor and the SSG for free.
"I don't know why the anti-graft agencies find it difficult to succeed in the fight against corruption in Delta State. If you are looking for where the tap root of corruption is, come to Delta state. What surprises me most is the way the auctioneer is busy allocating items to the governor's relations and cronies from the Delta North area of the state without payment," said the prospective buyer.
SaharaReporters investigation revealed that apart from a purchaser, who conned into paying over N15 million for items that were not released to him, many others paid sums ranging between N2 and N20 million into a private Zenith Bank account bearing Afam Dynasty Limited (account number 1015329614), operated by one Mr. Afam Adingupu, Operations Manager of Nwachukwu Auctioneering Services.
It was also gathered that instead of issuing the official receipts reflecting the true amounts paid for the items, the board, in connivance with the auctioneer, has been issuing receipts reflecting N150, 000. This is what is expected to be paid into the government coffers through the Board of Survey On Unserviceable Assets account (0066875580) at Sterling Bank.
"They fraudulently collected over a million naira for each 100 or 150 KVA generating plants from buyers. Some buyers got between three and seven generators for over a million naira each, but were issued receipts showing N150, 000 was issued. Meanwhile, you are directed to pay the millions of naira into the private account of Mr. Adingupu,” said a source.
A source in the office of the SSG, disclosed that Mr. Adingupu and others took some sound-proof generators to generator mechanics in Asaba for repairs and allocation to cronies and relatives at no cost.
Another source close to the Board said since the auction began in December, most of the items have been taken by relatives of Mr. Okowa, the SSG, Mr. Agas and other top government officials and their cohorts. It was also gathered that the man who collected millions of naira on behalf of Mr. Okowa's cousin has fled to the United States, with duped buyers threatening a showdown.
As at the time of filing in this report, calls and messages put across to the SSG, Messrs. Agas and Nwachukwu were ignored. The Board Secretary, Mr. Jaho Adams, who declined comments, saying: "I am not permitted to speak on this issue, but those who feel cheated can channel their grievances through the appropriate quarters.”
While reacting to the development during a quarterly press briefing on Wednesday, Mr. Okowa disowned the auctioneer, saying “The auctioneer is never my cousin and I shall look into all the allegations raised concerning the exercise."