In the last minute sleaze before handover in the next six days, the outgoing Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has directed council Chairmen to divert the sum of N5.1 billion, being a major slice of a Federal Government Special Grant recently meant for the 17 local government areas in the state to an Access Bank account
The sum is part of an N8.075 billion shared among Local Councils in Nigeria by the Federal Government. Each local government area in Enugu is supposed to get the sum of N475 million, out of which a total of N300 million has been received by the councils, meaning that only N175 million, when received, will be left for the Council Chairmen to use as they deem fit.
Investigations reveal that the Governor, on Wednesday, May 18, 2023, directed his former Chief of Staff, Dr. Festus Uzoh, to coordinate the movement of the money, the first tranche of which was to have been paid, if not for the reluctance of most of the Local Government Areas.
According the directive of the Governor, the councils were to make the payment in two tranches, the first of which was reported to be N170 million.
Dr. Festus Uzoh
As at the time of this report, investigations reveal that only Udenu and Ezeagu Local Government Areas have complied with the directive, and have handed cheques of N170 million each to Dr. Festus Uzoh.
Reports indicate that although the Chairmen of the remaining 15 local government areas have given directives for compliance, the Heads of Personnel Management and Treasurers of those LGA have been reluctant to respond to the directive, apparently afraid of possible arrests by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Their reluctance, it was gathered, was informed by the fear that the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), and the EFCC might be on the trail of the movement of the special intervention funds from the Federal Government.
According to our investigations, the cheques will be paid into the bank account of the newly established State University of Medical and Applied Sciences (SUMAS), Igbo Ano, Enugu State with Access Bank, account number 1662014848, a development that has led many to suspect that Ugwuanyi may have hurriedly inaugurated the university as a conduit for a last minute heist of the resources of the state.
When we ran a check on the new university’s bank account, the sum of N176, 470,588 was seen to have been deposited, suggesting that one of the cheques from either Udenu or Ezeagu local council may have cleared and deposited in the university’s bank account.
We further gathered that the money, when fully deposited into this account, would then be moved into nominated private accounts of Governor Ugwuanyi and that of the Governor-elect, Peter Mbah, a move that is apparently designed to wipe the paper trail by the anti-graft agencies.
While it is not clear the use Governor Ugwuanyi will put his own share of the heist, it was learned that Mbah was meant to invest his own towards compromising of the judiciary, given his increasingly difficult case at the Enugu Election Petitions Tribunal. It is also suspected that Ugwuanyi may have included Mbah as a beneficiary to buy his silence when he takes over as governor of the state on May 29, 2023.
Reports say that in addition to the initial cheques of N170 million, the councils got further directives to raise another set of cheques of N130 million, to be lodged in the same SUMAS account for onward transfers to the same beneficiaries. This will bring the total to N5,100,000,000 (five billion, one hundred thousand naira).
The Enugu State Government, under Governor Ugwuanyi has been accused of serially tampering with the state’s local government monthly allocations, a situation that has rendered the councils impotent in rural development. Monthly allocations, we gathered, are withdrawn and taken to the governor in cash for his personal use.
Last December, it was reported that Governor Ugwuanyi ordered the council chairmen to contribute the sum of N500,000 each as “Christmas gifts” to him.
In the same month, Ugwuanyi was also reported to have caused the diversion of another N200 million fund from the federal government, from each of the 17 councils, payments of which was made into the bank account of a company by the name Pat & Emma Enterprises.
The account, number, 1718420227, also with Access Bank, points to the possibility of this financial institution playing a huge role in the diversion and laundering of monies belonging to the state government and the local government areas.