Imo Deputy Speaker in the eye of the storm over alleged N270m contract scam

Posted by News Express | 1 January 2020 | 1,551 times

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•Imo Deputy Speaker, Hon. Okey Onyekanma
The Deputy Speaker, Imo State House of Assembly, Hon. Okey Onyekanma, appears to be facing a tough time in his legislative sojourn following grave allegations of sharp practices and abuse of office.

The lawmaker representing Mbaitoli Constituency stands accused of hijacking and spear-heading the procurement of the Toyota Prado jeeps recently handed over to the 27 members of the State House of Assembly and fraudulently conniving with a yet-to-be-known vehicle dealer to swindle the government and his colleagues of about N270 million from the transaction.

Investigation revealed that the governor, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, who is not keen in borrowing to run the state, a few weeks ago reviewed his earlier position as his government funded the purchase of official vehicles for the lawmakers via bank loan to prepare and equip them for legislative excellence and oversight functions.

The State Government, it was gathered, approached Union Bank Plc and secured a deal to fund the purchase of the 27 vehicles. However, instead of buying government-approved 2019 model Toyota Prado, the Deputy Speaker allegedly connived with an unknown vehicle dealer and supplied refurbished Four-Cylinder ‘Dubai used’ Prado jeeps with a market value of between N18m and N20m at an exorbitant price of N37m each, thus swindling each member N10m.

Trouble, it was also gathered, ensued when the lawmakers to their chagrin uncovered disparities upon taking delivery of the vehicles on government-approved order and the eventual supply.

This, it was said, infuriated the lawmakers, who raised posers as per details of the transaction.

One of the lawmakers who pleaded anonymity confirmed that he and his colleagues took delivery of 2017 Dubai refurbished Four-Plug Toyota Prado as against the 2019 model that government approved.

According to him, “We were not satisfied having sensed a sharp practice by those involved in the procurement. We have contacted the Commissioner for Finance who denied knowing neither the vehicle dealer nor anything involving the purchase.

“In fact, the Commissioner told us that the only role he played was to convey government approval to the bank that funded the procurement. The Commissioner said that every information regarding the purchase and the vehicle dealer should be sourced from the Deputy Speaker who interfaced and handled the transaction.

“As I speak to you, the bank (Union Bank) has pleaded with two of our colleagues whose vehicles immediately developed a knocking sound to return them for replacement. We must get to the root of this fraud.”

Further investigation revealed that majority of the lawmakers who now threaten thunder and brimstone have vowed to pursue the matter to a logical conclusion to ensure that Hon. Onyekanma and his accomplices refund hundreds of millions of naira siphoned from the lawmakers.

The lawmakers, it was gathered, are premising their avowed stance on the corruption-free Rebuild Imo administration of Governor Ihedioha and the need to redeem the integrity of the House.

But the embattled 43-year-old lawmaker seems unperturbed. It was gathered that he boasts and claims ‘untouchable’ in the Rebuild Imo government.

According to sources, Hon. Onyekanma prides to have ‘something’ in common with Gov. Ihedioha which grants him an ‘untouchable’ status in the government.

Efforts made to reach the Deputy Speaker proved abortive as his phones were switched off.

But the House Committee Chairman on Information, Hon. Dominic Ezerioha, who replied a text message seeking his reaction, submitted: “Join His Excellency, The Governor of Imo State to rebuild our own Imo State. If the Prado jeeps given to honorable members who contested elections are refurbished, it must be returned and any person and persons that are involved must face the battle of the members of Imo State of Assembly. We urge you to carry out your investigation, but do it with sincerity.”


Source: Ebere Uzoukwa

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