Barely three weeks after the state House of Assembly removed Imo Deputy Governor, Jude Agbaso, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arrested the state Finance Commissioner, Okafor Chike John, and Accountant General, AG, Eche Ezenna George, over the N1 billion road contract, for which Agbaso, was impeached.
The anti-graft agency also invited members of the Chief Simeon Iwunze-led ad-hoc committee set up by Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Mr. Benjamin Uwajumogu, to explain all they knew about the N458 million road contract scam, which led to the recent impeachment of Sir Jude Agbaso.
The lawmakers had axed the deputy governor last month claiming that he took a bribe of N458 million from the contracting firm, JPROS, thereby stifling the company’s effort to deliver the job on schedule.
Vanguard leant from competent sources that the hurried removal of Agbaso and the attendant furore generated by the lawmakers’ action, raised suspicion over the way the contract was awarded, prompting the anti-graft agency to move in.
It was gathered that the two top officials of the state were picked up on Wednesday to assist the operatives of EFCC in unraveling how the contract was awarded and whether due process was adhered to in giving out the controversial job.
It was also learnt that the operatives swopped on the two men when they discovered that the N1 billion was paid to the contractor, even before the commencement of work.
A source said, “They were arrested following petitions in respect of the over N1billion construction contract awarded J-PROS International Limited for which the former deputy governor, Jude Agbaso, was recently impeached.
“Investigation has revealed that due process was not followed and the contract value was paid to the contractor even before the commencement of work.”
Sources at the Commission disclosed that more personalities involved in the scam were being invited for questioning as investigations continue.
EFCC’s spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed the arrest of the two top officials, when contacted.
Meanwhile, Imo State Government said yesterday that it had filed criminal proceeding against the road construction firm, J-PROS, for obtaining over N1.3 billion under false pretence without doing the job.
The state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Soronnadi Njoku, filed the charges against the firm at the Owerri Chief Magistrate court presided by Mrs. Victoria Isiguzo, on behalf of the government.
After listening to the brief of the state, the court ordered the police to produce Mr. Joseph Dina, the Managing Director of J-PROS Limited to face criminal charges filed against him and his company.
The suit seeks to prosecute the contractor for abandoning a major road contract in Owerri, the state, after criminally obtaining money in excess of the contract sum.
The state maintained in the brief that J-PROS boss abandoned the Sam Mbakwe Road project awarded to the company after collecting the total contract of N1.5 billion and another N2million overpayment.
Mr. Dina, had in the course of investigation carried out by Imo State House of Assembly, accused the former Deputy Governor and then commissioner for Works, Sir Jude Agbaso of demanding and receiving N458M gratification, an allegation he claimed led to the abandonment of the project.
After hurriedly investigating Agbaso, the lawmakers removed him from office, paving the way for the enthronement of the governors, former Chief of Staff, as the new deputy governor.