Monday, 10 March 2014
EFCC investigates Uduaghan’s Multi-Billion Naira Asaba International Airport, Quizzes Govt. Officials
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is reported to have turned its attentions to the multi-billion Asaba International Airport built by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, last week quizzing some Delta State government officials.
EFCC sources who confided in our reporter revealed that, “The state Tender Board chairman for the award of the contract and the Deputy Governor, Prof. Amos Utuama, Mr. Austin Ayemidejor, members of the Board and Airport Director, and other members of the Board excluding Prof Utuama because of immunity had been requested to report at the commission’s headquarters, Abuja. But, they sent a lawyer to plead with the commission to extend the time. On the new date which was on Tuesday, December, 11, 2012, Ayemidejor and other government officials reported and were all quizzed here in the commission where they were later granted bail and told to report on December, 21st with all the necessary documents concerning the award of the airport.”
Investigations by our reporter revealed that the beaming of the commission’s eyes on the most controversial Asaba International Airport might be connected to a petition said to have been written to the commission by a legal practitioner of Delta State origin who is based in Abuja.
Declining to reveal the name of the petitioner, the impeccable EFCC source the letter was entitled ““Suspicious Award of Contracts By Officials of The Delta State Government on The Asaba International Airport and Organization of South-South Summit by The Delta State Government.”
The petition, he said, raised alarm about the rather suspicious manner that certain officials of the Delta State Government awarded the contract as well as subsequent developments concerning the airport among other numerous questionable projects and numerous futile personal attempts by the petitioner to obtain information from the state Government pertaining to the said Airport.
“That the Officials of the Delta State Government have refused to give the information requested by the petitioner and had read on the newspapers sometime in May, 2012, the award of the contract of an additional sum of N7.4 Billion Naira for the evacuation of surrounding hills near the Airport and for the extension of the original runway which has been completed on the excuse that the Government of Delta State needed to extend the said runaway in order to accommodate the Presidential Airport as they were expecting the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a guest at a SOUTH-SOUTH SUMMIT hosted by the Delta State Government besides the original contract sum that the Delta State Government have refused to make public.”
Confiding further, our source disclosed that “The petitioner who is a regular user of the Asaba International Airport and a regular visitor to Asaba knows for a fact that no such hills existed anywhere near the Asaba International Airport. That it was more worrisome and suspicious that the contract for this evacuation of the said hills and extension lasted for only ten days, a time too short for a job of that magnitude if such was really done. That the actual cost of the contract has continually remained a secret except to a few officials of the Delta State Government and the contractor, one ULO CONSTRUCTION COMPANY LIMITED handling the construction of the said Airport and suspects that certain officials of the Delta State Government used and are still using the construction of the said Airport to defraud the Government and good people of Delta State of huge sums of money running into several hundreds of billions of Naira using the construction of the said Airport as a guise.”
It was further learnt that the petitioner who is unhappy over the fraudulent and corrupt manner the airport is being handled by the state government, noted that the officials of the state government in the know of the contracts include but not limited to MRS ESIEVO OREZI, the Commissioner for Special Duties on Infrastructures in charge of the Ministry of the state government that oversees selected projects termed ‘Special Projects’, including the Asaba International Airport, as well as the Commissioner for Finance, the Director, Finance and Administration and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance as well as the Management of ULO CONSTRUCTION COMPANY LIMITED and other companies that are involved in the project.
Following independent investigations, our reporter was able to establish a link with the counsel to the petitioner who simply gave his name as Mr. Bello O.W. (Esq). He confirmed that upon the instructions of a client, a petition was written to the chairman of the EFCC over what he called fraudulent and corrupt award of contracts of the airport.
According to the counsel, “Yes, there are numerous salient issues raised in that petition and we can authoritatively tell you that the commission has already swung into action. Government officials have been quizzed and award of contract documents have also been requested for, so we are progressing. Our Client suspects too that organization of the SOUTH-SOUTH SUMMIT by the Delta State Government was also used as another guise by the Officials of the Delta State Government including but not limited to those named in [the petition] to defraud the Government and good people of Delta State as several Billions of Naira is claimed to have been spent by the Government of Delta State while the Government of Delta State has refused to release any information on the subject matter. So we have appealed to the commission to use its good office to investigate these curious activities of the Delta State Government to save the good people of Delta State. We also assure the commission that our Client shall be physically present whenever required by your Office.”
When contacted, it took the Airport project Director and former commissioner for Education, Mr. Austin Ayemidejor over one week to respond, but he did confirm the story, adding, "The state was actually invited based on some issues raised in the petition. The state has responded for now to all of those things and they are working on that."
When asked about the state reporting back to the commission next Friday, the 21st of December, with relevant documents concerning the project, the Director, who appeared to be in panic, stated that he was not aware of such a thing, but that he would confirm attempt to obtain that information.