Home News Finance WHISTLER Exposes Ex-Abia Governor’s N10bn Misappropriation for Non-existent Airport Project
FinanceNews

WHISTLER Exposes Ex-Abia Governor’s N10bn Misappropriation for Non-existent Airport Project

162

New details have emerged regarding the former Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, and the alleged misappropriation of N10 billion designated for an airport project.

An investigation by THE WHISTLER newspaper uncovered how Ikpeazu claimed to have disbursed this hefty sum to Ferotex Construction Company for constructing an airport in Abia. The new finding, which could indict the past governor, comes in the backdrop of an initial denial of having ever initiated an airport project.

The airport controversy started when the current Abia State Governor, Alex Otti, disclosed a couple of days ago that the past administration collected funds for several projects that were never executed while speaking on the topic “State Governance and Economic Transition: Meeting Challenges” at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in the United States.

“I have set up forensic audit as soon as I took over as Governor. So that there will be no argument, I called in one of the top three audit firms in the world, and not too long ago they turned in their reports, and some of the things in their reports are frightening.

“N79.3 billion naira was paid to seven contractors for contracts that were not executed at all. Another N15.9 billion, almost N16 billion, was paid to 63 contractors without supporting documents. Another N13 billion was paid to two contractors for contracts that do not exist out of these figures, and N10 billion was paid to some contractors on September 25, 2020, for the construction of Abia State Airport.

“We’ve spent time trying to locate the airport, and up till now, we’ve failed. One of my aides told me the other day that maybe we’re using native intelligence to look for the airport and should seek artificial intelligence. We’ve also involved security agents to help us find the airport,” Otti had said.

The allegations had infuriated Ikpeazu’s camp. His aide, Sir Onyebuchi Ememanka, challenged Otti to reveal the audit report, calling the governor an “administrative comedian”.

“Governor Alex Otti should, as a matter of public policy, name the accounting firm that did the audit and release the audit report. Abia State has a functional website. The audit report should be posted soon. Going to a foreign land to make comments about a document that is not in the public domain portrays the governor as an administrative comedian.”

Ememanka further stated that Ikpeazu had never initiated an airport project but had briefly considered it. He said only N10 million was allocated for land acquisition, not the reported N10 billion.

THE WHISTLER obtained exclusive access to a forensic audit report on Ikpeazu’s eight-year administration, which provided critical insights into the alleged airport construction. The Report was commissioned by Otti’s administration and conducted by KPMG Advisory Services.

According to findings, Ferotex Construction Company reportedly sought a term loan of N10 billion (80% of the contract amount) to continue the supposed airport project. Two weeks later, on October 8, 2020, Ikpeazu’s government issued an Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO) to facilitate the transfer of funds to Ferotex.

“The ISPO instructed United Bank for Africa to debit its ABSG Federation Account Allocation Committee/Value Added Tax Accounts with a repayment amount of ₦406,620,817.24 for a period of 30 months, and credit the contractor’s account domiciled with UBA the ₦10bn term loan.
According to investigations, UBA was said to have disbursed the ₦10bn term loan to the contractor on September 25, 2020, which was before the October 8, 2020 date that Abia State Government sent the ISPO to UBA”, the WHISTLER reports.

Discrepancies arise as investigations reveal that the contracted project does not exist—no airport exists! KPMG’s forensic audit report stated that the airport project was not included in the contracts awarded by the state government during Ikpeazu’s tenure.

KPMG’s Forensic Audit Report

Further scrutiny of the approval process sheds light on the Abia State House of Assembly’s suspicious and swift endorsement of Ikpeazu’s request to utilise state funds for the airport project.

A day after the ex-governor’s request, through a letter dated October 13, 2020, the House of Assembly approved and appropriated N10bn to Ikpeazu.

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s Request for 10bn and Abia State House of Assembly’s approval

There is no evidence of using the N10 billion for its intended purpose or reallocating it to another project. Legal experts have weighed in on the matter, suggesting potential charges under the Money Laundering Prohibition Act against Ikpeazu and Ferotex if they benefited from the loan.

FEROTEX DENIES AIRPORT DEAL WITH IKPEAZU 

Ferotex told THE WHISTLER:

“Our company is majorly into road construction. We don’t handle airport projects. So, when the government of Ikpeazu brought the airport project to our company, we rejected it and told the governor that we don’t handle such a project. Our company did some road construction and supervised some other projects in Abia during the last administration.

“There’s no contract agreement between the company and the Abia State concerning any airport. We don’t have any information regarding the Abia airport project by the Ikpeazu administration.”

Further efforts to obtain proof from Ferotex Construction Company regarding their alleged rejection of the airport project have been met with silence. THE WHISTLER’s Freedom of Information request to Ferotex remains unanswered. However, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has confirmed receipt of the audit report and is currently reviewing its contents.

About The Author

Related Articles

Femi Otedola
FinanceNews

Femi Otedola Increases Stake By N18.9bn, Becomes First Bank’s Largest Shareholder

Nigerian billionaire Femi Otedola has emerged as the largest shareholder of FBN...

FinanceNews

German Govt. Agency Transfers Bitcoin Worth Over $400 Million, Sends Some To Crypto Exchanges – Arkham 

A German government agency has transferred a significant amount of Bitcoin, valued...

FinanceNews

Swiss Central Bank Cuts Interest Rates For Second Time This Year 

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has cut its key interest rate for...

Juneteenth Celebration
NewsWorld

Several People Shot At Juneteenth Celebration In Oakland, California

A Juneteenth celebration in Oakland, California, turned violent when several people were...