“He awarded major contracts in the state to self”
By: Steve Ademola
His popularity rating is now abysmally low. Many who voted for him in 2008 and again in 2012 are in disbelief at what he turned Edo State into before he left office in November 12th 2016. He is Comrade Adams Aliu Oshiomhole, the immediate-past governor of Edo State.
In a petition made available to ICON Newspaper by Group of Concerned Edo NGOs and Stakeholders, signed by Bishop Dr. Osadolor Ochie and Marxist Kola Edokpayi, which was addressed to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the group accused Oshiomhole of defrauding Edo State to the tune of over N50 billion while in office as the governor of the state.
According to the petitioners, who also copied the president, Mohammed Buhari and the senate president, 80 per cent of contracts executed during the Oshiomhole administration were never advertised.
“Throughout Oshiomhole’s tenure, over 80 per cent of contracts that were awarded were never advertised and in the same vein the cost were usually increased before their completion. The scheme used was called VIREMENT and this allowed the governor to approve new contract as additional work to the tune of N99 million without advertising such contract or seeking the approval of the state executive council,” the group alleged.
The former governor was also alleged to have used N5 billion for charter flights during his time as governor of the state. The group stated in its petition that it has both vouchers and approvals to buttress its claim to the EFCC.
According to the petition, Oshiomhole engaged in contractor splitting where contracts for roads were awarded along with road furniture, but furniture such as street lighting, walk ways, drainage were later re-awarded to the same contractor. “Contract splitting amounting to N76,390,306,746 was awarded to Messrs Hani Associates Ltd for the preparation of the bill of quantities for construction and renovation of public schools (date of approvals of payment 21/01/16, 20/10/16, 18/10/16, 25/10/16).”
He was also accused of diverting security votes running into billions of naira. “Diversion of security votes to proxy accounts vis: Chief M. A. Kadiri vouchers from 2008 to the last day of the tenure of Comrade Adams Aliu Oshiomhole totalling N42 billion also in December 2014 alone comrade. Adams Oshiomhole approved. N700million and Chief M. A. Kadiri was on hand to sign and collect it via attached vouchers and detailed documents.”
The petitioners further alleged that the former governor inflated the price of the purchase of 2 units of Toyota Prado TXL for N28,953,600.00 at inflated rate. “Supplier Sata Motors Ltd, 3 Oyaide Street, GRA, Benin city. Photocopy of voucher attached annexure 1.1 and additional purchase of 2 units of Toyota Landcruiser V8 at N45,031,200 photocopy of voucher and approval attached.
“We have at our disposal a truck load of approvals and vouchers if the one supplied is not enough for your investigation and we are prepared to supply more photographs of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s properties all over the world and relevant vouchers and approvals that he made while in office to misappropriate Edo State funds particularly for the Edo University whose funds were not approved by the Edo State House of Assembly.”
Another issue of concern is the “construction of 168 male students’ hostel complex at the rate of N10million per room at the University of Science and Technology, Uzaire awarded to Messrs A & K Construction Ltd at a total cost of N1,880,483,836.66.”
Comrade Oshiomhole was also alleged by the petitioners to have used state fund for an on-going event centre, cinema theatre hall and shopping mall at finishing stage directly opposite the University of Benin.
According to the petition before EFCC, Comrade Oshiomhole expended N20 billion on personal mansion at Okoro Otun and an on-going hotel being constructed next to Benin Club in GRA.
However, the fear in the state is the closeness of Oshiomhole to Buhari which will make it difficult for the EFCC to prosecute him. According to a source, Oshiomhole boasted in several fora that they were the one running the country and nobody could open his can of worms or investigate him when he was one of those that control the country and determine what happens in Nigeria.
The major short coming is the role Oshiomhole is playing in the ruling party as he is presently regarded as Mr Fix It just like chief Tony Anenih during the Peoples Democratic Party days. A very close source in the anti-graft body is the enormous power Oshiomhole weilds in the government, hence, he has not been invited since he was petitioned before the EFCC.
MORE OF THE ALLEGATIONS BELOW:
OSHIOMHOLE’S COUNTRY HOME IN IYAMHO
On April 5, 2012, the EFCC acknowledged the receipt of a petition titled: “A call to investigate Governor Adams Aliu Oshiomhole’s Multibillion Naira Mansion in Iyamho, Edo State” which was signed by Matthew Edeghase Esq. (The EFCC’s acknowledged copy is annexed to this petition).
In addition to the said earlier petition, we further add that the cost of the controversial mansion, that was designed and constructed by Verissimo (a South African architect), is valued to be about N10 billion. As earlier reported by THE WILL NEWSPAPER, the sprawling mansion has swimming pools, water fountains, multiple theaters for cinema and live performances; huge event halls, bridges, man-made lakes, lodges of different sizes amongst others. Recent aerial photographs revealed that he has also constructed a helipad within the vast estate. The size and scope of the mansion completely negates all possible explanations for the source of funds which Oshiomhole used for the construction.
THE FORMER GUINNESS BUILDING ON RESERVATION ROAD, GRA, BENIN CITY
Our investigation shows that Oshiomhole bought the Guinness guest house located along Reservation Road, GRA Benin City soon after he was sworn in as governor in 2009. The property was quickly converted to the office of HANI and ASSOCIATES, the consultancy firm that has supervised all civil construction works in Edo State since 2008. We are reliably informed that Governor Adams Aliu Oshiomhole bought the building for over N100 million.
EWOHIMI GENERAL HOSPITAL PROJECT
Construction of Ewohimi General Hospital in Edo Central has gulped over an additional N200 million through the bogus practice of ‘virement’. Oshiomhole’s brother in-law, MR. VICTOR EBOIGBE, allegedly coordinated the hospital project. His company was also reported in the press to have supplied Dando water drilling rigs and two street sweepers to Edo State government for inflated contract sums of N800 million and N356 million respectively.
CONSTRUCTION OF HOSTEL BLOCK AT N10M PER ROOM AT IYAMHO UNIVERSITY
Governor Oshiomhole awarded the contract and the payment in a week for the construction of 168 hotel rooms in Edo University Iyamho at the sum of N1.680 billion (one billion, six hundred and eighty million naira). The average cost per room translates to N10 million (ten million naira) per hostel room. The firm, A & K Construction Limited was also awarded additional contract worth N12,282,852,413.69 (twelve billion, two hundred and eighty two million, eight hundred and fifty thousand, four hundred and thirteen naira, sixty kobo) to construct Edo State Teaching Hospital at the University of Science and Technology, Uzairue, Edo State (Iyamho University).
THE N31BILLION STORM WATER PROJECT
On April 11, 2011, Governor Adams Oshiomhole went ahead to borrow N25 billion from the capital market through the issuance of bonds. While presenting an FCMB cheque of N6 billion to Mr. Saad, the managing director of Hitech Construction on March 2, 2011, Oshiomhole listed several roads as part of the First Phase of the Storm Water Project to include Adolor College Road, Textile Mile Road, Otote Road, Uwelu Road, Akugbe Street, Iyoba areas among others. These roads are still earth roads today; just the Storm water project has been abandoned by Hitech and the gullies they left have killed over six persons, including children. We are also aware that when Adams Oshiomhole went to the capital market to borrow 25 billion facilitated by Godwin Obaseki’s Afrivest company, the purpose of the loan was not just the storm water project but also included a power project. The Azural Power Project has since started in Edo State but without the government being a major investor apart from the paltry shares given to it by the promoters as compensation for the land acquired. Curiously Philip Ihenacho the original founder of Afrivest, the same company Godwin Obaseki, Oshiomhole’s close ally owns, is a major investor in the Azura Power Project. Edo people believe that they have been shortchanged in this Azura Holdings, and what should have been Edo State shares have been allocated to private individuals holding brief for those who have abused the people’s trust.
ROADS, DRAINS AND BRIDGES
The flagship of road construction, re-construction and rehabilitation projects done by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is the six-lane Airport Road Benin City. The contract was originally awarded to Servetek Construction Company Limited as one for the “construction of drainage structures and dualization of Airport Road from Ring Road to Ogba River Bridge (a distance of 7.2Km of road and 14.4Km of drainage” at an industry record-setting N611million per kilometre (totaling N4,401,101,722.50).
In a fit of anger over Servetek’s reluctance to allow any further tampering with the contractual sum, the contract was truncated and re-awarded at over N12 billion to Setraco Nigeria Limited. It is instructive to note that the state government ingeniously padded the original contract description with “17 access roads” that ran parallel to Airport Road whereas these roads (access and internal roads such as the Shittu Alao Airforce Base, Oko-Ogba for instance), were re-awarded as stand-alone ones, with new cost tags.
This organized rape of Edo State treasury was replicated in the award and execution of the over 100 intra and inter-city road projects that were turned into veritable Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). One of such roads is Sapele Raod, awarded to Setraco for N 1,429,446,044.25 for a length of 2.1km. Even the “detailed design of storm water drainage and associated roads master plan for Benin City was awarded to a South African Firm for a whopping sum of N 446,969,250.02. The pattern of sleaze ran through all the contracts he awarded and financed through suffocating portfolio of debts that future generations of Edolites will inherit and pay. Setraco and Hartland Nig Ltd both companies chaired by Abu Inu Umoru, a close associate of Adams Oshiomhole are the major beneficiaries of inflated road contracts in Edo State.
ACCIDENT AND EMERGENCY/200 BED CENTRAL HOSPITAL & IYAMHO COUNTRY HOME PROJECTS
An initial contract was awarded to an Italian company, for the sum of
N2.7 billion before it was reviewed upwards to over N3 billion when Governor Oshiomhole demanded for an extra floor; a process that made a large part of the construction within the premises of the Central Hospital, Benin City, to collapse on June 4, 2012. Many workers were injured with a lone casualty, Dr Stefano De La Roca, the owner of the company and confidant of Adams Oshiomhole. The contract was later re-awarded to SCL without penalizing those responsible for the building collapse. The cost of the reconstruction is a closely guarded secret.
What many did not know at the period was that SCI was also the contractor handling Oshiomhole’s multi-billion naira sprawling palatial complex at Iyamho, Etsako West Local Government Area. The umbilical cord or nexus between the medical complex projects in Benin City and the astonishing Mobutu Sese Seko country home project of the Comrade Governor is far more than a coincidence as SCI was the main contractor for both sites and most, if not all, of the construction materials and workers shared a common pool.
$225 MILLION WORLD BANK LOAN AND EDO STATE OPEN GOVERNMENT INITIATIVE
In 2012, Edo State Government received $75 million as first tranche of $225 million loan from the World Bank under the first Edo State Growth and Employment Support Credit Project (with the Project Identification Number P123353). Till date, government is unable to account for the initial $75 million and another $75 million that was approved by the World Bank in 2015, despite massive protests by Edo people and senators from the state.
We are informed that the unsubstantiated contracts that were tied to the loan led to the resignation of Ms Yemi Keri who was the Managing Director of the Information Communication Technology office in the Governor’s Office. The computerization of government activities by the Directorate of ICT in the Governor’s Office was used to syphon resources from the state. The second tranche of $75 million which was domiciled at Access Bank has largely been transferred to offshore accounts while the remaining was round-tripped at the detriment of Edo state.
EDO STATE GOVERNMENT AND THE BANK OF INDUSTRY COUNTERPART FUND SCHEME
In December 2009, Edo State Government signed an agreement with the Bank of Industry to support Small Scale Industries with N500 million; made up of N250 million from the state and N250 million from the Bank of Industry. According to Edo State government records, only N41.6 million was reportedly disbursed. However, credible sources informed us that the balance of N458.5 million (approximately) has vanished into private pockets.
THE N950 MILLION CONTRACT FOR THE BEAUTIFICATION OF 5-JUNCTION IN USELU
The sum of N950million was approved by the exco as cost for the beautification project, which is merely planting of flowers.
SAPELE ROAD N600 MILLION STREET LIGHT CONTRACT
In 2012, Governor Oshiomhole awarded the contract for erection of street lights from 3rdJunction (Sapele Road) to Country Home Road Junction (Sapele Road), a distance of less than two kilometres for N600 million. Sadly, this work was never executed.
CONVERSION OF EDO UNIVERSITY TO PRIVATELY-OWNED INSTITUTION
Oshiomhole has spent over N30 billion of state funds on infrastructure in the Edo University he built opposite his country home in Iyamho, which documents have revealed is a privately owned university by private partners, fronting for the governor.
N1.172BILLION CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY WAIVER/DANGOTE CEMENT SHARES
On June 1st, 2013, Governor Oshiomhole granted Alhaji Aliko Dangote a staggering N1,089,530,370.00 (One Billion, Eighty Nine Million, Five Hundred and Thirty Thousand, Three Hundred and Seventy Naira) waiver for a Certificate of Occupancy. Also on the same day, another waiver of N81,763,200.00 (Eighty-One Million, Seven Hundred and Sixty Three thousand, Two Hundred Naira) to Alhaji Dangote, all for the land allocated to the billionaire for a proposed Dangote Fertilizer Factory at Agenebode in Etsako East Local Government Area. The so called factory never saw the light of the day.
SUPPLY OF SCHOOL DESKS AND CHAIRS
The state government, through the Ministry of Education awarded a contract in November 2009, worth N1,547,910,000.00 (One Billion, Five Hundred and Forty-Seven Million, Nine Hundred and Ten Thousand Naira only), to Itex Furniture Limited of Plot 512, Cadastral Zone C16, Idu Industrial District, FCT, Abuja, for the supply of 35,000 units of single seaters (chairs and desks) and 40,000 units of double seaters (chairs and desks) to all public schools in Edo State.
The contract was purportedly “completed” and a completion certificate issued for full payment for a job, which only a middle-level staff of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) inspected at the Abuja factory of Itex Furniture Limited in 2011 (two years after the contract was awarded). Due diligence was not made to verify whether the advance payment guarantee/performance bond provided by Itex were ever authenticated or the quality and quantity of 75,000 units verified too, before the full payment for this supply of this school furniture in 2012.
On Friday, April 4, 2014 (two years after the purported supply of 75,000 units by Itex Furniture Limited), the state‘s Ministry of Education placed an advert on page 16 of the Vanguard newspaper, requesting for bids, for among others the “construction and supply of schools desks and chairs for all Schools in Edo state”.
Sources in the Ministry averred that the advert was a mere window-dressing as the advertised contract had been awarded to the same Itex Furniture! No due diligence was made to find out whether the initial 75,000 units were manufactured and supplied. The contracts eventually snowballed into paid advertorial contest between ITEX and the state government. Most schools in Edo State have no chairs and desk.
It is instructive to state here that the pioneer chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) under Oshiomhole’s administration Sir Emoabino and a former Secretary to the State Government to Gov Adams Oshiomhole, Dr Imuokheme, were arrested and tried by EFCC for fraud totaling N300million. The Subeb contractors were criminally directed to pay part of their payments proceeds to Oshiomhole’s campaign account in 2011.
PLUNDERING OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACCOUNT
Governor Adams Oshiomhole administration took advantage of the Joint State/Local Government Account to appropriate and misappropriate the monthly allocations that has accrued to the 18 local councils to the disadvantages of the chairmen and people of the local government.
The hapless and helpless chairmen cannot complain openly because their “election’ or appointment and tenure are at the mercy and discretion of the Comrade Governor. The irony of this prevailing arrangement is that the local government council chairmen were cajoled to take responsibility for the expenditures they never made, in the first place; like the purchase of inflated SUVs. The Commissioner for Finance and that of Local Government deduct their accounts at source.
This sort of irresponsible and unnecessary expenditure, which is prevalent in the administration of the local government councils in Edo State, led to the inability of councils to pay the salaries of their staff until the bailout offered by the Federal Government. It will interest you to know that the 18 local government areas in Edo State have in the last 6 years received over N212 billion as statutory allocation. We believe these breaches deserve investigation.
OFFSHORE PROPERTIES (USA, SOUTH AFRICA, LONDON DUBAI
With the benefit of the global fight against corruption, the EFCC should investigate allegations of Oshiomhole’s acquisition of properties in the United States of America; which are located in Miami, Florida and in Louisiana (where his first son, Dr. Cyril Oshiomhole stays); as well as a luxurious apartment valued at one hundred million dollars at Peachtree Corners (Miami) FL; acquisition of the Penthouse of One and Only Hotel in Cape Town South Africa, as well as apartments in Dubai, and London (UK).
NO RESPONSE FROM OSHIOMHOLE’S FORMER AIDE
In our fact-finding mission, our reporter contacted Mr. Peter Okhiria, the former Chief Press Secretary to Mr. Oshiomhole on February 1st, 2017 on his MTN mobile line number 070305.….68. He directed our reporter to send the petition via email to him on: pok….….@gmail.com to enable him respond. After days of furnishing him with the allegations, he did not respond. Our reporter then contacted him again but didn’t take the call neither did he get back to us as at press time.