By Uzoh Ugwueze, Enugu
Residents of Eke community, in Udi local government area of Enugu state have cried foul over the inauguration of a federal government road project in the area.
Angry residents of the community took to the streets in their numbers, insisting that the government was inaugurating a non-existing project.
Orient Daily learnt that the road project was under the office of the secretary to the government of the federation, SGF.
However, the federal government delegation that was in Enugu to inaugurate the supposedly completed road, was welcomed with protests, as the benefiting community said the over N429m project – Enugu/Eke/Ogui Uno/Eke/Obodo Amankwo/Oma Eke road, was yet to be constructed.
Members of the community displayed placards with inscriptions such as “Corruption Unlimited; ICPC, where are you? EFCC where are you? Fraud Unlimited! Public Procurement Act Crucified!”
They described the development as a monumental fraud which would be resisted.
One of the protesters and a community leader, Barr. Godwin Onwusi, described the exercise of the project as the height of scam.
“My people are agitated; they are not happy; you can see a good number of them, including the women.
“It was said clearly in the contract terms that the project was not transferable; so, we have been waiting for them to come and do the project, only for us to hear yesterday that they were coming to commission the road; which road? I wonder the kind of commissioning they want to do. If the SGF office has the facts, they won’t send a team to come and commission a project that has not been executed, because nothing was done on any of those places mentioned in the contract paper and the contract says this contract is firm, fixed and not transferable; nobody can move it.
“We know the president to be Mr. integrity and he has lived up to that. So, we need to bring to his notice that some people under his government are committing fraud. This is fraud; for you to come to commission a contract not executed.”
“Our people are very well agitated; the contractor should come and do the job he has been paid for,” he stated.
Speaking on the development, in his palace, the traditional ruler of the Eke community, Igwe Chiwendu Onuoha, Ezeoha 1, said he was shocked to hear that some government officials were coming to inaugurate a road project in his community.
The monarch, who said he was contacted by an aide to Udi local government chairman, said no such road had been completed in his domain through the ecological fund office.
“I got a call from a special assistant to the local government chairman, who said the chairman asked him to call me; that they are coming to commission some roads in Eke.
“I asked ‘which roads?’ because I have been in Eke, I didn’t fly in. However, I’m in the village, I’m in the community, but up till now, I have not seen anybody.
“If a job was said to have been done, it is a sham, because we can’t find any such road here done by the ecological fund office.
“If they went anywhere to commission anything, I wasn’t informed. No ecological fund project has been done in Oma Eke,” he declared.
Meanwhile, enquiries showed that the community has already written a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and other anti-graft agencies, seeking an investigation of the alleged completed job.
They have also, through their counsel, indicated intention to sue the director of the bureau of public procurement and several others over the project.
Writing through their lawyer, F.A. Onuma, they accused the BPE office of conniving with the contractor and ensured that they were paid, notwithstanding that the contract was not duly executed, saying, “In the light of this, there is no denying the fact that through the connivance of your office, public fund has been fraudulently paid to the contractor for a contract not executed or diverted and under executed.
They continued that “The Public Procurement Act has been breached by both your office and the contractor. Our clients, the end users of the project, have been fraudulently denied the enjoyment of a project given to them by the people-oriented Buhari government.
“Take notice that we have the definite instruction of our clients to institute legal proceedings against your office, the contractor and other accomplices to this fraud if, within 30 days from the receipts of this notice, the situation is not remedied.”