A former governorship candidate in Abia and a chieftain of APC, Dr. Alex Otti has called on the state government under the leadership of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to show interest in the recovery of about 50 percent charge said to have been paid to two consultants from N22bn received by the state government from the federal government, being excess deductions on the Paris Club Debts.
While wondering the reason for the engagement of the consultants, Ziplon Nigeria Limited and another, Otti in a statement made available to ABN TV said the Paris Club Refunds would have been better used to clear the backlog of salaries and pensions due to workers and pensioners in the state.
He noted that the recent shocking revelation made by Governor Ikpeazu’s former Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Obinna Oriaku, on how the former governor, Theodore Orji’s government indulged in alleged dubious consultancy arrangements aimed at defrauding the state is a clear pointer that resources of the state have been looted.
He highlighted the key revelations from Oriaku’s submission to include, “That former Governor Theodore Orji’s government received the sum of N8.2 Billion Paris Club Refund during his tenure (This is not part of the N22 Billion under discuss), and that there’s no record to show how the money was utilized.
“That at the twilight of that administration, and knowing that other Paris Club Refunds were going to be paid, Theodore Orji’s government, allegedly imposed two consultants on the incoming government of Ikpeazu with 30 and 20 percent consultancy fees respectively. This implied that the so-called consultants were to be paid N11 Billion (50%) of the N22 Billion paid to the Ikpeazu led government by the federal government.
“That the duplication was aimed at shortchanging the state, hence the engagement of two consultants, including one Ziplon Nigeria Limited with no official engagement letter, and suspected to be fronting for the former governor.
“That one of the consultants has now approached the EFCC with the intention of ensuring that they were paid several Billion being in consultancy fees with respect to the N22 billion. Note that, the revelation showed that the same consultants were allegedly hired by the Theodore Orji government with respect to the N8.2 billion Paris Club Refund to his government, at the same rate.”
While stating that the frightening revelations coming from a key actor of the two governments, he added that Abia is dangerously sitting on the edge of a precipice.
Otti said the alleged massive corruption has made millions of Abians slaves to the perpetrators of those heinous financial crimes.
While alleging that Governor Ikpeazu was aware of the existence of what he called the so-called consultants and the questionable agreements they had with his predecessor on behalf of the government with a view to crippling his government and shortchanging the people, he queries why Governor Ikpeazu did not terminate the agreement on assumption of office knowing that it was unreasonable.
He, therefore, demanded, “That the ongoing legal action initiated against Abia state by the consultants at a federal high court in Abuja and the alleged presence of key government officials for the proceedings would have been avoided if the Ikpeazu government had been courageous enough to call the bluff of the consultants and their promoters from the outset knowing that no sane mind would enter into such contract?
“That the government should tell Abians the role of the said consultants in the return of funds which the federal government was making to states.
“That even in a difficult task of recovery of bad debts through a consultant, the maximum compensation applicable all over the world is between 2 and 5%, so what brought about the rate of 50%?
“That without prejudice to the matters before the court and EFCC, the state government should initiate the process of recovering stolen Abia money from this bogus scheme and ensure that same is returned to the state.
“That the state government should take interest in the matter before EFCC which borders on recovery of funds for one of the consultants and expand the matter to recovery of looted funds in the name of consultancy fees for the benefit of the state.”