Edo moves to probe Igbinedion’s projects
THE Edo State government has finalised plan to investigate a number of projects initiated and executed by former governor of the state, Chief Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion.
Notable among the projects in question is a $31 million cement company which it described ‘fraudulent.’
Briefing journalists after the weekly State Executive Council meeting in Benin City, outgoing Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Louis Odion said the decision to probe the project was reached “while turning our books. We found that the sum of $31 million was fraudulently taken from state coffers under the administration of Chief Lucky Igbinedion. The Comrade Governor has directed the Attorney-General to commence legal action in that direction.
“So in the coming days, the state government will take legal action to ensure that what was stolen from Edo State Government is recovered. When you convert $31 million to naira, it fetches you a whooping N7 billion. You can imagine what N7 billion will do in improving the human condition in Edo State,” he submitted.
Throwing more light on the issue, the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Abdul Oroh said: “The $31 million which was stolen from the people of Edo State for the transaction was designed clearly for criminal purposes. This project was called Avrant Cement Company situated at Ekpe, near Ikpeshi in Akoko Edo Local Government.
“The company was supposed to produce cement to take advantage of the large scale deposit of limestone in that part of the state. The company was registered as Abat Cement Company Limited and this company had three shareholders. The Abat Cement Company had 75 per cent shares, Edo State Government had 15 per cent shares and 10 per cent shares were reserved for ‘other Nigerians’.
Also billed for the searchlight is a juice processing company in Ehor which was allegedly established with hundreds of millions of naira.
Oroh continued: “The fruit juice processing company in Ehor was established in 2001 by the Lucky Igbinedion administration. The cost of establishing that company was N368,458,195 (Three hundred and sixty-eight million, four hundred and fifty eight thousand, one hundred and ninety five naira. The company was owned 100 per cent by the Edo State Government. The materials for the company were imported from England from a company at a sum of £310,000.
“The company was now sold including the land and the three hectares pineapple farm which was also developed by the Ministry of Agriculture for N283.8 million. The company was completed and there was a test run. There was no reason to privatise it and it was sold out at a give-away price which only could have been influenced by criminal intentions.
On another project for scrutiny, he said: “There is also the one at Ikpeshi, the Solid Mineral Processing Industry. This company which was also owned 100 per cent by the Edo State Government was established in 2003 at the sum of N85 million. This company was sold to a company called Copex Solid Mineral Processing Company owned by Chief Mike Ogiadomhe, the then Deputy Governor for N56 million.”