The immediate past chairman of Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, Ogbonnia Enyim, has urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the financial transactions of local governments in the state.
Mr Enyim, who was appointed the Caretaker Committee Chairman of the local government area in 2015, was later elected as the executive chairman in the same year and bowed out of office in 2020.
After his tenure at the council, he was appointed Special Assistant to the Governor on School Monitoring, but later relinquished the office.
According to the copies of a petition he sent to the EFCC and obtained by this newspaper, Mr Enyim, on Wednesday, alleged that while serving as the local government chairman, Governor David Umahi, “forcefully took” N20 million monthly from federal allocation to each of the 13 local government areas.
He said these monies were transferred into an account tagged “EBONYI STATE GOVERNMENT LGA JOINT PROJECTS FUND ACCOUNT”, domiciled with United Bank for Africa(UBA), with account number 1014900274.
“It is further our client’s instructions that for over 7 years and counting now, the total sum of Twenty One Billion, Eight Hundred and Forty Million, Naira (N21,840,000,000.00), have so far been collected by David Umahi, through the said Ebonyi State Government LGA Joint Projects Fund Account, for which no single joint project has been executed in conjunction with any of the 13 Local Government Areas of Ebonyi State,” the petition read.
“These monies were directly transferred to the said project joint account upon the receipt of monthly allocations, by each of the 13 Local Government Areas in Ebonyi State. The Twenty Million Naira (N20,000,000.00) collected from Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, by David Umahi, was transferred on monthly basis, from the following accounts of the Local Government; UBA-1003272681, Eco Bank- 5393071559, Zenith Bank-1011618769,”
Also attached to the petition is a copy of the Zenith Bank account statement of Afikpo North Local Government, showing the monthly transfer of these monies from the account of the local government, to the joint account.
He further alleged that the governor directed the local governments to award a one kilometre road project to a company traced to his brother, Austin Umahi.
“It is further our client’s instructions, that the said David Umahi, in a bid to further impoverish Afiko North Local Government of Ebonyi State, and indeed the entire 13 Local Government Areas of Ebonyi State, and fraudulently enrich himself and members of his family, also directed that contracts for the construction of 1km Road be awarded to Austin Umahi, his brother, using a company called CHRZL CONSULT LTD, at an over-bloated contract sum of Two Hundred Million Naira(N200,000,000.00).
“It is also our client’s instructions that David Umahi, forced the Afikpo North Local Government of Ebonyi State, to pay the full contract sum of Two Hundred Million Naira(N200,000,000.00) to Austine Umahi, using CHRZL CONSULT LTD, even when the road construction is not up to 50% complete.”
Mr Enyim then appealed to the chairman of the anti-corruption agency to ensure a thorough investigation into the allegations.
But in his reaction, the Special Assistant to the Governor on media and publicity, Francis Nwaze, said the petition is an attempt to tarnish the image of the governor.
“They became so desperate by seeing how they can tarnish the governor,” he told PREMIUM TIMES on Friday.
Speaking on the allegations of impropriety, he said the governor has nothing to do with the joint local government accounts.
“If they have a joint account, what is the connection with the governor?” Mr Nwaze asked, dismissing the ex-council chairman’s claim.
He further said the governor was not worried about the probe, stating that the burden of proof lies on Mr Enyim and others.