Why EFCC Must Investigate Obaseki, Others Over Alleged Mismanagement of N28bn

The Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, has accused the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration of mismanaging over N28 billion of state resources on the reconstruction of the Radisson Hotel.

During a press conference on Saturday in Benin City, APC State Chairman, Emperor Jarret Tenebe, alleged that the ownership of the hotel remains unclear.

He noted that Governor Obaseki announced on August 30, 2023, that the Radisson Hotel was being built at a total cost of N16.6 billion.

Tenebe revealed that the project was awarded to Shapoorji Pallonji Nigeria Limited on August 23, 2023, for N15,397,368,022.49. He claimed that the project’s cost has since escalated to N23 billion due to further sub-contracts worth N4.403 billion, awarded on June 1, 2023.

These sub-contracts include N2.1 billion for the supply, installation, and commissioning of MEP/HVAC (mechanical works and equipment), N1.6 billion for the supply and installation of kitchen and laundry equipment, and N703 million for the installation of aluminum glazing works and Alucobond cladding awarded to All Facade Limited.

The APC Chairman called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate Governor Godwin Obaseki, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate Barrister Asue Ighodalo, and his running mate Barrister Osarodion Ogie, the incumbent Secretary to the State Government, over the alleged misappropriation of state resources.

He accused Obaseki of siphoning state resources in connivance with the duo to raise capital for projects through Afrinvest, a company owned by the governor, and Banwo Ighodalo law firm owned by Asue Ighodalo.

According to Tenebe, in March 2023, Afrinvest, owned by Governor Obaseki, submitted the ‘Project Financial Summary’ to a company called ‘IDIA Development Company Limited,’ suspected to own the Radisson Hotel in Edo State, and Afrinvest came on board as a financial adviser to the project.

“We wish to inform Edo people that the law firm of Banwo and Ighodalo, owned by the PDP governorship candidate, was awarded the contract for Legal Advisory Services at N1.5 billion, in addition to legal contract drafting and MOU writing over the last eight years at ridiculous and bogus fees.”

“Sadly, the ownership of the Radisson Hotel is shrouded in doubt. The EFCC must unravel this in the interest of Edo people and find out the stake of IDIA Development Company Limited and the Edo State Government in the Radisson Hotel project,” Tenebe said.

Tenebe also urged the anti-graft agency to investigate the ownership of the modular refinery, alleging that the refinery located in Ikpoba Okha Local Government was initially presented as a state government project with over N1 billion spent for its take-off from the government coffers.

He claimed that after attracting foreign investment, the refinery was transformed into a private company with 100% ownership by Michael Osime of AIPCC Energy.

“ICMG Securities Limited, Michael Osime, had accompanied Governor Obaseki to China in January 2018 to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a 5,500bpd modular refinery between Edo State Government and SINOPEC of China at SINOPEC headquarters.”

“Osime’s AIPCC Energy was never a partner to the project but a financial advisor. Like the Radisson Hotel, we call on EFCC to unravel the true owner of Edo Modular Refinery,” he added.

Raising concerns about Obaseki’s paperless governance, Tenebe alleged that it was a ploy by the governor to destroy all sensitive documents and information related to his fraudulent contracts in the event that his candidate loses the September 21, 2024, governorship election.

“The latest plan by Governor Obaseki to make the activities of his administration paperless is a criminal plan designed by ‘Ugo,’ who is in charge of e-governance, to destroy all documents relating to fraudulent contracts with the excuse that the Edo Government has gone paperless. ‘Ugo’ has been instructed to delete the server containing sensitive documents when the PDP and its candidate lose the governorship election. We hereby warn Governor Obaseki and the head of e-governance, ‘Ugo,’ not to delete the approvals of contracts on e-gov,” he stated.

When contacted, Hon. Chris Nehikhare, the State Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, accused the APC leadership of being sensational instead of telling the people of the state how best to govern them if their candidate is elected.

“I just read a statement by the chairman of APC in Edo State. It is unfortunate that we still have people heading political parties that don’t have an idea of how the government is run.”

“They believe in sectionalism and have not offered any policy statements or direction for a government that they are trying to form. Instead, they are chasing shadows and making spurious and frivolous allegations.”

“We are not going to dignify them with a response but to tell Edo people to ask these APC leaders about their plans for Edo State. That is all we ask.”

“We need to hear their plans for Edo State, all the plans to build or offer a better state than we have done here in the PDP. How they intend to sustain the progress we have made or if they have a better plan, let them come out and articulate it,” he said.