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How they loot Imo: Insider releases details of fraud in the House of Assembly Speaker’s Office

By Citizen Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha on 28/01/2014

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In the part one of this article, I explained in practical terms what Accountability is all about and its relationship with stewardship. I moved further to name the two legs of Accountability and of course the end product which is Transparency in Public Service. Because of the nature of our “Environment”, I propounded measures that would help check this decline in Accountability.

To show or prove that the decline in Accountability has reached abysmal level, I used the lack of “Accountable magnitude and direction” at the office of the speaker of Imo State House of Assembly to showcase my points. I promised to go deeper in part two in order to expose the many legs of fraud going on in the speaker’s office facilitated by the Chief of Staff (Mr. Kodichi Anamekwe) and Acting Senior Special Assistant on Media (Mr. Emeka Ahaneku). However, immediately after the part one of this article was published, I was bombarded with several calls from people. While some of them praised me for my courage in exposing fraud and evil at the speaker’s office, others abused me. Also, while some people begged me not to go further and deeper in exposing the fraudulent activities, others threatened me with death should I go ahead to explain in details in my promised part two. Also, many political leaders in the state visited me to “talk” to me. 

So as a result, I sat back and reviewed my relationship with the speaker and all the principal actors and came to the painful conclusion that it would be better for me to expose in details what has been going on (fraud) damming the consequences bearing in mind that the journey to sanitize our society of fraud must begin by exposing not just economic fraudsters but also political fraudsters. The end product of this fight and crusade will be a society 80% free of crime, fraud and evil manipulations which will inadvertently eliminate poverty, unemployment, conflicts and backwardness. All these point to the fact that Accountability is the outcome of stewardship when elected political leaders and political appointees are accountable to the people, thereby making our society (state) to develop geometrically.

In the part one of this article, it was stated in clear terms that Mr. Kodichi Anamekwe (the Chief of Staff and political appointee) is massively involved in road contract fraud, general supply fraud and other sundry frauds. The aim of this piece is to explain in details while bearing in mind the actual responsibility of the Chief of staff to the Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly. The duty of the Chief of Staff is to assign responsibilities and duties to the other aides of the speaker. He must ensure that assigned duties to the aides are effectively and effectively executed. Hence he is called the “CHIEF OF STAFF”. Unfortunately, Mr. Kodichi Anamekwe abandoned these responsibilities and went outside his confinement of duty/duties to award road contracts to inexperienced contractors in Imo State. He signed so many road contract papers for contractors. He also delved into road construction while retaining his position as Chief of Staff to Imo Speaker.

The question that must be asked is; who authorized Mr. Kodichi Anamekwe to award and sign road contract papers for contractors? Which law empowers him as Chief of Staff to award and sign contract papers for contractors? His boss (the Rt. Honourable Speaker) is not even empowered by any known law in Nigeria to award or sign contract papers for contractors. The duties of a state Assembly Speaker do not include to award and sign road contract papers for contractors. This abnormal legislative function of the Office of the Speaker has led to the award of road contracts to inexperienced, ill-equipped, nonchalant and “wait and take” emergency road contractors. The resultant effect is the execution of shoddy road jobs in our dear state Imo. Majority of these roads done by these “wait and take” emergency road contractors have collapsed. This is what happens when inexperienced people award road contracts to inexperienced contractors. The ultimate target is our funds which they shared shamelessly, sometimes along Wetheral Road Owerri and in hotels in the city. Mr. Kodichi Anamekwe so abused his office as Chief of Staff to the extent that other aides of the Speaker were equally awarded road contracts, namely; (1) Mr. Dan Orji (Special Adviser on Inter-governmental Matters) (2) Mr. Emeka Ahaneku (using fronts), etc.

Also friends of the leadership of the Office of the Speaker who were residing abroad were asked to return home, which they did and road contract jobs were given to them as fronts even though they never had any experience in road contract assignment and execution. It should be noted that road contracts were awarded to these “wait and take” contractors on the condition that ASPHALT materials are procured from a particular plant in Owerri.

Through these various manipulations, state funds running into billions of naira were diverted and used to acquire eye-popping properties scattered across the country and abroad. In the part three of this piece, I will mention the names of these “wait and take” contractors, names of companies used to execute this phoney road contracts, locations of properties acquired with state funds belonging to Imo People, and the reasons behind the various overseas “Legislative” trips.

EMPLOYMENT RACKETEERING – Immediately he was elected the Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly on the 7th of June, 2011, Rt. Honourable Benjamin Uwajumogu appointed an experienced legislator, Hon. Prince Ugochukwu Nzekwe, his Chief of Staff on the recommendation of the state Governor. But he only worked for one week before he was dropped. Reason being that Hon. Ugochukwu Nzekwe is not from Ihitte/Uboma LGA. Speaker Uwajumogu allowed the Ihitte/Uboma Cabal led by Mr. Kodichi Anamekwe to manipulate him into dropping Hon. Ugochukwu Nzekwe. Kodichi Anamekwe took over and started the recruitment of political liabilities from Ihitte/Uboma as Speaker’s aides. Within few weeks, the office of the speaker had over one hundred and twenty people (120) recruited as aides, whereas ordinarily only about thirty (30) people were supposed to have been recruited. Conversely, it is safe for me to assert that over ninety persons were illegally employed by the Chief of Staff. Various levels of salaries were also approved for these over 90 persons with the understanding that they allegedly part with a percentage of their salaries to the Chief of Staff. These over 90 persons have never for one day reported for work. So they can be described as ghost workers who received monthly salaries but who allegedly give certain percentages to the Chief of Staff. This anomaly and fraud continued until it was discovered by other Honourable members who threatened to deal with Rt. Honourable Benjamin Uwajumogu. They ordered Imo Speaker to bring down the number of “employed” aides or face “appropriate action”. Speaker Uwajumogu responded by bringing down the number of aides from the 120 to about 90, which is still too much.

This situation made the office of the governor (office of the Principal Secretary) to write to the leadership of Imo State House of Assembly in the second quarter of 2013 to furnish it with the actual number of political appointees. Till this moment, the leadership of the Assembly is yet to respond to that letter. Imo State House of Assembly depends on the Executive for their monthly subvention.

SALARIES SCAM – There is nothing wrong with Imo Speaker approving certain salaries for his aides because it is his prerogative or privilege to do so. But the Chief of Staff (Mr. Kodichi Anamekwe) exploited this gesture to his advantage in that only those who are allegedly ready to part with a certain percentage of their salaries were promoted. For instance, Mr. Godson Amadikwa (the Special Adviser on Legislative Matters) joined the office of the speaker in JULY 2012 (one year after the Rt. Honourable Speaker’s inauguration as Speaker), but he was made a Special Adviser and his appointment letter backdated with the agreement and understanding that the accrued “salaries” would be allegedly shared with the Chief of Staff. So many aides of the Speaker who were willing to cooperate with the Chief of Staff passed through this process, hence those who came in with me on the same salary scale were promoted and those under me were upgraded to my level (Mostly those from Ihitte-Uboma).

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE SCAM – Also there is nothing wrong with Imo Speaker approving certain request of Financial Assistance for his aides, relations or friends. But the Chief of Staff has exploited this honest gesture to his advantage. Any aide of the speaker who is in need of financial assistance to help solve a problem will have the request kept pending if he does not agree to do “business” with the Chief of Staff. For instance, if Mr. A has a problem of N100,000 financial request, such amount can only be approved by the Speaker if the said aide goes into agreement with the Chief of Staff to increase the request to about N250,000, so that when the Accounts department makes payment to the said aide, the sum of N150,000 would be given to the Chief of Staff. Also the Chief of Staff is in the habit of bringing people from Ihitte/Uboma for such deals. Even if fund is not available at the accounts department, Imo Speaker would be made to settle such request from his pocket for these people from Ihitte/Uboma, who will in turn pay certain percentages to the Chief of Staff. For example, a financial Assistance of N1.3 million was approved for late Mr. Emmanuel Adoba (former Special Adviser on Administration) and it was cashed in December 2011. The sum of N300,000 was allegedly given to the Chief of Staff. Records in the accounts department of Imo State House of Assembly will prove or show that the Mr. Emmanuel Adoba actually collected the sum of N1.3 million “Financial Assistance”.

GENERAL SUPPLY FRAUD – Mr. Kodichi Anamekwe usurped the functions and duties of the House Committee Chairman on House Services, Hon. Chino Kelvin Obioha. The Chief of Staff makes specific supplies to the Assembly with fictitious documents which can be verified from the accounts department. Diesel (AGO) is supplied at inflated rate or inflated quantity. Specific renovations at the Assembly are done at inflated rates. If cows are to be given to influential leaders as gifts during festive periods, the Chief of Staff will inflate the price per cow from say N110,000 to N140,000. OR He will inflate the number of cows supplied.

ADVERTORIAL RATE – When I assumed duties as the Senior Special Assistant on Media in June 2011, I discovered that the rate for advertorial was N80,000 in state (local) Newspapers according to records in the Accounts Department even though about N50,000 go eventually to the publishers. As an activist and socio-political crusader, I officially brought down the rate for Advertorial in state Newspapers to N50,000. The Chief of Staff got angry with me and wanted me to revert to the “old” rate so that we would be sharing the difference of N30,000 per page advert, but I refused.

STIPENDS FOR CORRESPONDENTS – Before I assumed office, stipends for correspondents was N3,000 per month, but I increased it to N5,000 per month. I also increased the number of correspondents from 21 to 36 (including few people from the National newspapers). The Chief of Staff was not happy with me. He wanted me to bring down the number of correspondents to its original number. He also wanted me to reduce the N5,000 stipend to its original N3,000 so that the difference of N2,000 would be shared between us. But I refused. Rather, I got the speaker to approve a new stipend of N10,000 per correspondent in MAY 2012. The Chief of Staff pressurised me to bring down the number of correspondents so that money would be shared between us. I still refused. Unfortunately, when I was moved to a new department (Special Duties), the new person who is now the acting SSA Media (Mr. Emeka Ahaneku) simply implemented the Chief of Staff’s wicked agenda by reducing the number of correspondents, thereby having surplus funds at his disposal which is being shared at the speaker’s office.

Several correspondents have not received their stipend since July 2013. Even staff in the media department have suffered unjustly for over 7 months. The original paying list of correspondents per month can be verified from the Accounts department. But the new Acting SSA media discarded the list because of his selfish and self-centered agreement with the Chief of Staff, all to the detriment of accredited correspondents whom I gave identity tag numbers bearing the name of Imo State House of Assembly.

When a leader genuinely shows compassion for the people, that is transparency. When a leader is truly accountable to the masses, that is transparency. Therefore, like I stated in part one of this write-up, Accountability and Transparency has a direct relationship with leadership when the people are involved. Conversely, Accountability, stewardship and transparency in government will have true meaning when those in positions of Authority genuinely show the road or module that leads to honest leadership which will advertently provide the much needed dividends of democracy.

Let me also state here that if the Imo Speaker had listened to the wise counsels of the other Honourable members and the Clerk, this problem would have been solved internally. He allowed the issues to become public knowledge by refusing to act like a leader when it mattered most. When I wrote a letter to Mr. Speaker on the 7th of November, 2013, hinting about the corrupt practices of His Chief of Staff and other aides, I was targeting two things as follows: (1)To prove my allegations beyond all reasonable doubt because I have unchallengeable proofs. (2) To force Mr. Speaker to call a meeting of all his senior aides where office issues and challenges would be discussed and solved without bickering and animosity.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker chose to take sides with his Ihitte/Uboma brothers who were fighting me. Rather than heed the advice of Honourable members and the Clerk of the House, Mr. Speaker issued me a query (36 days later) on the 13th of December, 2013. On my own, I responded or replied to the query at once by insisting that a panel made up of at least 4 honourable members should be set up and must invite me in the presence of pressmen to prove my allegations. On the 17th of December, 2013, it became obvious that my life was in danger, so I stepped aside through resignation and declared total war. Today, the whole issues have become public knowledge.

Who is to be blamed? Of course, Mr. Speaker, because he allowed clannish consideration to over-ride his sense of reasoning and judgment. He suddenly forgot my contributions in making him Speaker. At that material time, his Ihitte/Uboma brothers were nowhere to be found. Serious blame should also go to the two elderly people at the Office namely (1) Mr. Kingsley Ndubueze (Special Adviser on Political Matters) and (2) Mr. Kingsley Nkemka (Special Adviser on Administration and former Honourable member) for failing to act like elderly persons when it mattered most. They allowed material consideration to blindfold them into taking stupid and foolish decisions with the fraudulent Chief of Staff. Also knocks should be given to Dr. (Mrs.) Chidinma Uwajumogu for failing to see beyond materialism and clannish consideration. She failed woefully to act like a mother.

In conclusion, let me make it very clear that I was hated at the Office because I refused to be part of the fraudulent scheming and exploits of the Chief of Staff (Mr. Kodichi Anamekwa) and his cabal. My transparency made them to be uncomfortable. They saw me as an outsider among them. Therefore, transparency in relation to Accountability is a situation where there can be no doubt, no mistake or confusion about leadership.

Finally, the Rt. Honourable Chief Benjamin Chukwuemeka Uwajumogu remains my boss, friend, uncle, father and most importantly my speaker.

My decision to expose the criminal and fraudulent acts of the Chief of Staff (Mr. Kodichi Anamekwe) is in obedience to Almighty God’s directive.

I rest my pen.

NOTE: The part three of this article will further prove and expose specific issues concerning leadership, accountability, transparency and stewardship using the legislature as a fulcrum.

Citizen Dr. Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha FCAI is former Senior Special Assistant on Media and immediate past Senior Special Assistant Special Duties to the Imo Speaker Uwajumogu (shown in photo). Part one of this series originally entitled “Accountability and Transparency in Imo State: The Legislative Perspective” by the writer, was published in News Express on Jan. 10, 2014.

Source News Express

Posted 29/01/2014 12:56:13 AM

 

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