By Okey Alozie
Another eye popping disclosure of how a multi million naira in different categories for projects was paid for and many yet to be executed was the major discovery of Wednesday’s session of the Imo State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on contracts during the Rochas Okorocha era.
Our correspondent who has been monitoring proceedings of the panel at the High Court premises, Owerri reports that exposures on how a particular company got paid for the construction of a Centenary Tower in New Owerri of the state capital, while another firm is receiving payment for the same contract that is yet to be fully executed.
Trumpeta recalls that at the beginning of Okorocha’s administration during his first tenure (2011-2015) the former governor came up with the concept of building a Centenary Tower to be made of several layers. The contract is said to worth about million of naira
According to details available to the panel, a firm got N23.9m paid on the money for the execution of the contract while another one named Kingseol is said to have received N304m for the job not executed yet.
More revelations on the Centenary Tower came up on Wednesday the 27th day of May at the probe panel during the testimony of the Kingseoul Company’s owner on the witness box.
Kingsley Onyegbule, the owner of Kingseoul Company disclosed that he spent big amount of money, about 37,000 US Dollars in clearing containers that brought material for the job.
The Centenary Tower, he said, is a 16- story building of eight (8) sky scrapers, adding that it is unrealistic for any company to come here to claim that the sum of N23.9m was paid as contract value to the job.
“I could not believe what was said that a company received 230 million naira as total cost of the contract job” Kingseoul said.
Speaking further, the Kingseoul owner disclosed that he saw some foundation work there before he continued.
The panel however discovered that the Centenary Tower project was awarded to another company and Kingseoul and the contract which was awarded was fully paid on the agreed amount.
The panel was then surprised to hear that Kingseoul was still paid on the same Centenary Tower contract.
The panel members also discovered that most of jobs handled by Kingseoul did not have contract award letters and no document that showed contract arrangement and this made the probe panel not to believe most of his claims. In some cases double payments were discovered involving companies and this made the fact finding team to raise eyebrows.
“There is no fact in what you are saying” a panel member told Kingseoul company owner during cross examination.
At this point, Kingseoul’s lawyer expressed disappointment on government concerning what is happening.
The panel members maintained that they were talking on the pre agreement papers because we have not seen any.
Lawyer to the witness insisted that there is clear evidence that his client Kingseoul did a wonderful job “even when the contractor and the contractee were mentioned you still say there is no evidence” Kingseoul lawyer questioned the panel at this stage.
The panel already has observed that due process was not followed in the execution of contracts during Okorocha’s era in Imo State.
Many companies surfaced in many projects Kingseoul claimed to have handled and amount of money paid to each of the companies on the job that then handled were listed by Government House. It was surprised to hear that Kingseoul was not even mentioned again in these jobs he claimed to have done for Imo State government.
For example, the High Court project he claimed to have handled, document from Imo Government House showed that some companies outside Kingseoul did the High Court job and somany projects were mentioned which Kingseoul appeared without his company participating in such contracts that were mentioned at the panel Relief Market project, Stadium Lane contract, and others but Kingseoul made it clear to the panel that he never participated in those contract mentioned.
“I handled only the new police headquarters, High Court premises, New Owerr, Oguta Motel job, Concord Hotel Amaraku project”. He denied receiving money from Imo Government House on the 12th of December 2019 but said that he was met with the ex governor for not paying him for the jobs he did for Imo State Government.