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N2bn Road Contract: Ebonyi Council Chairmen on the Run Over EFCC Invitation

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Nathaniel Gbaoron

There are strong indications that the Local Government Chairmen of the 13 local government areas of Ebonyi state have been invited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC over road contracts estimated at N2bn.

The invitation may not be unconnected with the allegations levelled against the council Chairmen, who are in charge of grassroots administration in the state, to have been involved in corrupt practices, mismanagement of the council’s funds in collaboration with some loyalists of the Governor of the State, Engr. David Umahi.

It would be recalled that a letter of invitation dated July 6, 2022, and signed by the Commission’s Director of Operations, ACE I Abdulkarim Chukkol, was extended to all the Executive Chairmen, through the State’s Local Government Service Commission, LGSC, to appear at the anti-graft national headquarters in Abuja on separate dates from July 15, 2022, to August 11, 2022.

Letters of invitation were officially communicated to the Chairmen through a forwarding letter from the State’s Director, Admin and General Services (for the Chairman), Local Government Service Commission, Nwofia, M. N directing the LG Chairmen to appear before the Anti-graft Agency.

EFCC Ebonyi

None of the invitees have honored the EFCC invitation, sources said.

The anti-graft body’s ‘Letter of Invitation,’ addressed to the Chairman, Ebonyi State Local Government Service Commission, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, a copy of which was made available to our Correspondent reads: “This commission is investigating a complaint in which they need to seek certain clarification from your Local Government Chairmen becomes imperative.

In view of the above, you are kindly requested to inform and release the under listed Local Government Chairmen to report for an interview with the undersigned through the Head, CMU. 1 as scheduled below at EFCC Headquarters 5th Floor Plot 301/302 Institutions and Research District, Jabi, Abuja by 1000 hours.”

The Local government service commission in response to the EFCC letter urged the Council Chairmen to ensure strict compliance with the directive, the forwarding letter, dated 22 July, 2022 and titled; RE: INVESTIGATION ACTIVITIES, read,

“I am directed to refer to the letter with Ref. No. CR: 3000/ABJ/HQ/CMU 1/ST/DU/VOL.4/343 of 6th July, 2022 by EFCC on above subject as attached and to respectfully inform you that your presence is needed at the EFCC Headquarters, 5th Floor, Plot 301/302 Institution and Research District, Jabi, Abuja at 1000 hours. (See attached schedule).

“Please, take note of the urgent nature of the invitation letter and act accordingly for the invitation came to us today being 22nd day of July, 2022 and received by the Local Government Service Commission. Suffice to say that you make frantic efforts to honour the invitation and find attached for your guidance while noting paragraph three for its emphasis,” the forwarding letter from the LGSC concluded.

The letter specified the dates on which each of the Council Chairmen is expected to be quizzed and they are said to have gone to Abuja to say what they know about the issues at stake.

The invitation also stated that the concerned Chairmen “are to come along with Certified True Copies of all documents, approvals and payments made for One Kilometer Road construction in their Local Government Areas in 2019. This request is made pursuant to Section 38 (1) & (2) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004.”

A Source close to the Ebony State government who spoke on anonymity has however alleged that the council Chairmen in the state were buying time by going into hiding because their tenure would soon come to an end.

Meanwhile, a Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital has nullified the recent Local Government election in the state making the matter worse for the Local government chairmen in Ebonyi state.

When our correspondent called the EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwajaren, he denied knowledge of the invitation but after our correspondent explained the content of the invitation letter with dates and later forwarded the letters to him through WhatsApp, he did not respond as at press time.

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