A group, Concerned Indigenes of Oil Mineral Producing States Forum, has called for the cancellation of a N482 million contract awarded by the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) to Express Concern International for the training of 90 Niger Delta ex-militants.
In a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which was also copied to the Attorney-General of the Federation and the PAP, the petitioners also called for the prosecution of the contractors, Chief Daniel Okeke, Dr Emmanuel Onwe and Mrs Uchenna Ilomechizine, said to be a consultant to PAP.
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The contract was awarded under the Niger-Delta Youths Empowerment Project on Rice, Fish and Poultry Farming for a duration of six months but the group in its petition dated June 10, 2022 and filed by their lawyer, Kanu Ogbonnia, alleged that Okeke and Onwe diverted part of the contract sum to fund their political aspirations “after deceiving the PAP.”
Okeke was said to have won the All Progressives Grand Alliance primary for Arochukwu/Ohafia Federal constituency while Onwe won the All Progressives Congress ticket for Ebonyi Central Senatorial District.
A whistleblower was said to have provided details of how N148.6m was withdrawn between June 3 and 8, 2022 from FCMB project account number: 8705907010 without evidence of executing the contract.
The whistleblower reportedly revealed that the said contract was awarded after Onwe, and Okeke convinced the PAP that they had fishery, poultry and rice farms for the training of the 90 prospective beneficiaries of the programme.
The petition read, “We are informed by our clients and we verily believe same that the fact in issue is that the culprits conspired and fraudulently under false pretence and misrepresentation extorted and diverted Federal Government fund to the tune of N148,634,690.75 out of N482,422,500 meant for the training of 90 Niger Delta Youths (PAP) beneficiaries on Rice, Fish and Poultry Farming for the duration of six months in line with the Train, Employ and Mentor scheme of the Presidential Amnesty Training contract programme which said fund they converted to their individual selfish interest when they got involved in the just-concluded political party primaries.
“Investigations reveal that the farms neither existed nor did the contractors in any way have farms connected to their names or the company used for bidding the contract.
“The entire plan was obviously hatched to maliciously steal money from the federal government and utilize this to fund the political campaign of Dr Onwe and Chief Okeke.”
Ogbonna further alleged that the culprits boasted that as politicians, no security agency can arrest them as they have police guards, hence the petition to the EFCC and the AGF.
But Onwe denied the allegations levelled against him and others, saying the contract was just awarded in late May, and that the project was on course.
He stated, “This is a case of pure complete blackmail. None of those facts alleged had any close relationship to the truth.
“The person behind these allegations is Daniel Igbokwe who wants to reap where he did not sow.
“I am known as a big rice farmer in Ebonyi; so, how can they claim that I have no farm to train the beneficiaries. Please, disregard the petition, it is a fabrication.”