N458 Million Fraud: Imo House of Assembly Commences Impeachment Against Deputy Gov. Jude Agbaso
The Imo State House of Assembly has passed a vote of no confidence on the state Deputy Governor, Mr. Jude Agbaso, necessitating the commencement of an impeachment move against him.
The vote of no confidence, it was gathered, was based on an allegation that Agbaso received the sum of N458 million as gratification from one of the major contractors in the state, Messrs JPROS International Nigeria Limited.
The gratification, according to the lawmakers, allegedly led to the abandonment of some road projects in the state.
Rising from a long sitting Thursday, the assembly during a committee of the whole, deliberated on the report of the ad hoc committee instituted to investigate the cause of the stoppage and abandonment of work on the Owerri, Okigwe and Orlu municipalities.
Following the investigation, it was discovered that the contractor abandoned the projects due to the fact that Agbaso allegedly demanded and received financial gratification from the contractor to the tune of N458 million.
According to the report, it was disclosed that the sum of N458 million being the gratification sum demanded by the deputy governor was paid in two instalments to the two accounts provided by the Agbaso in favour of the account No. 0045630151 with GTBank and another account No. 1015334698 with United Bank for Africa (UBA).
The report further stated that during the interrogation of the two principal persons before the committee, the Chairman of JBROS, Mr. Joseph Dina, said: “He said you (deputy governor) gave him (Dina) account numbers via your telephone number directing him to pay a total sum of N458 million to those accounts. And that he actually paid it in February 2012 on the receipt of N1.035 billion, the sum of N325 million in favour of Three Brothers Concepts Limited account No. 0045630151 with GTBank and another N133 million paid in June to IHSAN BDC Limited in account No.1015334698 with UBA Plc.”
Based on the committee’s findings, the assembly adopted same as, “that a vote of no confidence be passed on the deputy governor for acts unbecoming of his person and office; that the Head of Service should immediately commence disciplinary action in accordance with civil service rules against the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, Mr. Alex Nlebedum; Director of Planning, Research and Statistics and Resident Engineer attached to the contract for criminal negligence in the performance of their duties and report to the assembly within 14 days; and that the state and local governments of the state should blacklist Messrs JPROS International Nigeria Limited from doing business with them in future after completion of the existing contracts.”
The assembly also directed the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice to take measures to ensure immediate recovery of the sum of N200 million being over payment to Messrs JPROS International Nigeria Limited on the said contract.
In a reaction, a source close to Agbaso, after several attempts to reach him, allegedly accused the state governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha, of being the mastermind of the impeachment.
The deputy governor was said to have claimed that the ploy of the governor was to use the Speaker of the assembly, Chief Benjamin Uwajumogu, and other members to tarnish his image and replace him with his Chief of Staff, Prince Eze Madumere.
It was also noted that since Madumere comes from Owerri zone, which is the same zone where the deputy governor comes from.
In a related development, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Imo State chapter has alleged that it had uncovered a plot by the Presidency and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to distort the activities of the Assembly, in order to cause disaffection in the ranks of the state government.
In a statement signed by the state Chairman of APGA, Mr. Marshal Okafor-Anyanwu, said the ill-conceived move was not unconnected to the ongoing investigation by the Assembly over allegation of financial gratification levelled against the deputy governor.
According to him, “we recall that Chief Rochas Okorocha, a few days suspended his oversee trip to intervene when events as regards to this subject matter almost assumed a very negative direction. We are therefore surprise with the way and manner the Presidency and national leadership of the PDP unexpectedly showed interest on the matter and subsequently declared support for the deputy governor, who is not a member of the PDP.
“However, we gathered that the 12 PDP lawmakers in the state legislature summoned to Abuja a few days ago, met with the national chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur; and Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih, at NICON Hilton, where the lawmakers were told in clear terms not to participate in the ongoing investigation on corrupt allegation against the deputy governor.
According to a source, “this position is an aftermath of Chief Martin Agbaso’s recent deal with the PDP. The senior Agbaso had as part of the clandestine moves to save his younger brother, struck a deal with the PDP promising to remain in APGA as against his earlier intention to join the All Progressive Congress (APC). He also pledged to work for the PDP presidential candidate in 2015 which President Goodluck Jonathan is favoured to pick.”