…says Governor planning to use stolen funds as starting capital for regional bank
Some members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under the aegis of Concerned Edo PDP Stakeholders, have petitioned the ICPC over alleged diversion of state funds by Governor Godwin Obaseki through the award of fraudulent contracts to his personal firm, AfriInvest Limited.
A copy of the petition signed by Andrew Egboigbe, a PDP member in Ward 3, Orhionmwon LGA of Edo, and submitted at the ICPC on Monday, was made available to the press in Benin City.
The petition, titled ” Petition against the unfairly advantageous awarding of Edo State Contracts to Afrinvest Limited by Mr. Godwin Obaseki”, alleged that Mr. Godwin Obaseki abused his office as Governor to unfairly award inflated contracts to his company, AfriInvest Limited, in flagrant disregard for the constitutional provision that guides the award of contract.
The petition alleged that Obaseki, been the founder of Afrinvest, used his position as Governor, to unfairly award contracts to his company in flagrant disregard for the constitutional provision that guides award of contract.
It read: “We, as concerned Edo indigenes, who have no other place to call our home except Edo state, file this honest petition against Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the governor of the state. and his firm, Afrinvest Ltd.”
“This followed revelations from reliable sources of unfair advantage the governor bestowed upon the firm using accumulated state funds meant for developmental works and projects.”
The petitioners claimed that although Mr. Godwin Obaseki stepped down as the Chairman of AfriInvest’s Board of Directors in 2016 on the assumption of office, he installed one Mr. Ike Chioke who served as his stooge at the firm and helped him siphon state’s resources.
“One of such abuse of his official position was when Obaseki, single-handedly, without the approval of his cabinet and legislative arm of government, awarded a N1.8 billion naira consultation contract on water storm project to Afrinvest Ltd., without the justification of the inflated sum and the nature of the contract. This, when established, will find the governor in contravention of Section 19 of the ICPC Act 2000.”
“That Afrinvest Ltd has, on different occasions, served as front and pipe for Mr. Godwin Obaseki’s diversion of state’s funds through bogus contracts and budgetary allocations.”
The petitioners further alleged that the security votes of Edo state which increased to an annual sum of 7.5 billion naira by Obaseki, since 2016, had been deposited in Afrinvest Ltd’s bank account.
According to the petitioners, the stashed funds and other illegally obtained profits are what Governor Godwin Obaseki used as starting capital to resuscitate PRIMUS bank which the Governor, acting through his proxies, is now seeking approval for, to operate as a regional bank.
“That Primus bank was funded through stolen funds and granting approval for its operations could lead to a financial closure as it remains vulnerable to an abrupt close when investigations if its fraudulent findings come to light.”
They urged the ICPC to act within the mandate of its powers “having established these facts and provided the surrounding context of the corrupt relationship between Obaseki, Afrinvest, and Primus Bank.”
“The ICPC in line with its core mandate to examine the practices, systems, and procedures of public bodies and where, in the opinion of the commission, such practices, systems born procedures aid or facilitate fraud or corruption, to direct and supervise a review of them.”