A human rights activist and Anti-Corruption crusader based in Benin City Bishop (Dr) Osadolor Ochei JP, today dragged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to a Federal high court sitting in Abuja.
That on 4th November 2016, the Applicant sent a petition to the 1st Respondent against the 2nd Respondent’s corrupt practices while he served as Governor of Edo State. Amongst the allegations made against the 2nd Respondent by the Applicant are the following:-
That the Applicant repeated the allegation that the 2nd Respondent built a sprawling mansion worth more than N10 billion naira in his hometown known as Iyanho, Edo State. The said building was constructed by Verissimo, a South African Architectural outfit. The said house of the 2nd Respondent has swimming pools, water fountains, multiple theatres for cinema and live performances, huge event halls, bridges, manmade lake, lodges of different sizes amongst others. The said cost of building the mansion is well outside the 2nd Respondent’s legitimate income. The 2nd Respondent’s lifestyle and extent of the said property were not justified by his sources of income. The Applicant’s Petition is attached as Exhibit “B”, while the reminder from the Applicant is attached as Exhibit “B1”.
That the 2nd Respondent bought a property along Okoro-Otun Avenue, G.R.A., Benin City owned by Edo State Government while serving as Governor of Edo State in an insider deal without due process and in abuse of his oath of office. The Okoro-otun property acquired by the 2nd Respondent was originally given to the University of Benin as a gift by Edo State Government. The 2nd Respondent, while a dispute was pending in Court between the University of Benin and Edo State Government, forcibly acquired the property for his personal use. The 2nd Respondent has since erected a structure with an underground apartment, roof-top swimming pool, another giant structure worth more than N500,000,000 (five hundred million naira) which is far beyond his legitimate income. At the time of the sale, the open market price of that magnitude of property and in that such high-brow location was about N100 million naira. This transaction took place while the 2nd Respondent was Governor of Edo State and he bought the said property for just N23 million naira vide an Access Bank cheque.
That in 2012, the 2nd Respondent initiated and authorized the approach to the World Bank to secure a loan of $225 million dollars under the First Edo State Growth and Employment Support Credit project with identification number “P123353”. The World Bank paid Edo State Government $75 million U.S. dollars as initial payment and another $75million U.S. dollars as the second instalment, despite massive protest by Edo people.
The said the second installment which was domiciled in Access Bank was largely transferred to private off shore accounts and round-trip to the detriment of Edo State.
That the 2nd Respondent received over N500,000,000.00 (five hundred million nairas) as security votes. These funds were diverted to proxy accounts according to available records. For instance, One Chief M.A. Kadiri collected sums of money approved by the 2nd Respondent and totalling about N42 billion. In December 2014, 2nd Respondent approved N700 million naira which was collected by the same Chief M.A. Kadiri on grounds of urgent security challenges when there was no security threat to justify the purported use of such an astronomically huge amount of money. The said funds were collected by Chief M.A. Kadiri for the benefit of the 2nd Respondent and to the detriment of the residents of Edo State. Copies of memoranda showing some of the receipts by Chief M.A. Kadiri, as approved by the 2nd Respondent are attached as Exhibits “E1-E4”, copies of some of the approvals are attached as Exhibits “E5-E11” and copies of payment vouchers are attached as Exhibits “E12-E22”.
That the 2nd Respondent approved the purchase of vehicles at ridiculous prices from Sata Motors Limited, a Company owned by one Hon. Gani Audu who was also a Personal Assistant to the 2nd Respondent without compliance with due process and in abuse of the office of Governor of Edo State occupied by the 2nd Respondent. The vouchers are attached as Exhibits “F1, F2 & F3”.
That the 2nd Respondent purportedly acquired properties in United States of America, South Africa and Dubai worth billions of U.S. dollars and far in excess of his legitimate income while serving as Governor of Edo State.
That on December 31st, 2014, the N.N.PC. paid $54.9 million dollars to Edo State Government and her Local Government Councils as contributions to Power Sector “Special Sector Intervention Fund”. That the money did not reflect in the income of the State till date was never captured by an Appropriation Act for the State. There is no place in Edo State where any project was built with funds from the so-called special Sector Intervention Funds. The said funds were merely diverted for the private use of the 2nd Respondent. Copies of the NNPC statement of transactions showing withdrawals from the Excess Crude Account and disbursement to Edo State are attached as Exhibit “G”.
That the Petition of the Applicant to the 1st Respondent contained weighty allegations bothering on corrupt practices that ought to have been investigated given the effect of corruption on the stunted socio-political and economic growth of Nigeria to the detriment of all persons resident therein.
As a result of the miss-use and abuse of public funds by the 2nd Respondent, the road leading to the Applicant’s house and other roads in the locality remained untarred despite several requests from the Applicant to Edo State Government to do so and the said Government continually claimed that they had no sufficient funds while 2nd Respondent was busy expending public funds on his expensive lifestyle, including acquiring mansions all over the world at costs outside his legitimate income. Several letters from the Applicant’s community to the 2nd Respondent requesting the development of the said community are attached as Exhibits “J1, J2, J3 & J4”.
The failure to tar Applicant’s road and other roads in the locality has led to frequent repairs on Applicant’s car and loss of valuable time due to frequent visits to mechanic workshops. The same is applicable to others who reside in the area. The receipts for repairs of Applicant’s car are attached as Exhibits “K1, K2 & K3”.
The Applicant and many other ordinary citizens had a hard time gaining access to Medicare as the Central Hospital in Benin City which 2nd Respondent claimed to have spent billions of naira of public funds on was not equipped and remained non-functional. Applicant and others had to practically beg for contributions to receive Medicare from private hospitals.
These reasons prompted Applicant to carry out an enquiry into how 2nd Respondent’s spent public funds belonging to Edo State and Applicant found out that 2nd Respondent was not prudent in the use of such funds and frequently diverted funds meant for the development and security of the State to private use.
The Applicant found out that the 2nd Respondent wasted hundreds of millions of naira on chartered flights, when public facilities in the State were abandoned and the public denied the benefit of these facilities. Copies of the approved vouchers for some of such chartered flight expenditure are attached as Exhibits “L1 – L13”.
The 2nd Respondent spent millions of naira on choice drinks when major public facilities like roads, hospitals and schools were in dilapidated conditions. Copies of the approved vouchers for the purchase of soft-drinks are attached as Exhibits “M1-M22”.
That the failure of the 1st Respondent to act on the Applicant’s petitions gave the impression that public officers are entitled to use public funds arbitrarily and outside public good.
That the failure of the 1st Respondent to act on the Applicant’s petitions has enabled the 2nd Respondent’s successor in office, Godwin Obaseki, to largely continue with the 2nd Respondent’s arbitrary and corrupt use of public funds.