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Published On: Tue, Apr 9th, 2013

Delta State: Reactions Trail Allegations of Non-Qualification, Corruption against Ughelli South LGA Chairman

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Chief Anthony Oviri Uto, Chairman, Transition Committee, Ughelli South.

By Oghenekevwe Laba
Petition written by a group under the aegis of Movement for Good Governance indicting Ughelli South Local Government Transition Chairman Chief Anthony Oviri Uto of none qualification for the position, corruption enrichment, falsehood and thuggery have received mixed reactions from those who had been following the administration of the transition committee since its inauguration.
The leadership of the group made up of Messrs: Gen. Obrodevo Okpakuvwidje, Mr. Highness Akporode, Lewis Sagho, Mr. Henry Vughare and Mr. Emmanuel Maru jointly instructed the chamber of O.C. UVWO, Esq. to write a petition titled, “Re: Breach of Local Government Transition Committee Law 2011 Concerning Ughelli South Local Government Council” to Delta State Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan accusing the Chairman of the transition local government Chief Otu and his Secretary of non-qualification for the position because they are not university graduates.

In the petition in which Rt. Hon. Victor Ochei, Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Taleb Tebite, member representing Ughelli South Constituency, DTHA and Chief Anthony Oviri Uto, Chairman, Transition Committee, Ughelli South were also copied, the group equally alleged that the administration of theTransition Committee has been characterized by falsehood, thuggery and intimidation all in a bid to cover up for their short-comings as Executive Chairman and Secretary respectively.
While indicting Otu of corruption charges, the petitioners alleged that since his resumption as the Transition Committee Chairman, he had withdraw over N20m from the local government treasury which they claimed was judiciously expended.
As a result of the aforementioned allegations, the group is appealing for the immediate removal of the Chairman and his Secretary.
When Urhobotoday contacted Otu on the allegations made against him by the petitioners, he denied being corrupt or arrogating power to himself. He told Urhobotoday there have been a lot of changes in both social and infrastructural development in the local government since they were sworn in as transition committee executive.
“I will want you to investigate and see if what the they wrote about me is true. In as much as I will not want to blow my own trumpet, but it would interest you to note that I am among one of the best among the twenty five local government transition chairmen in term of performance.
“I am undergoing twenty meters road project construction in my jurisdiction. Presently, we are grading all the bad roads in the community. When I resumed office, I paid three months salaries arrears to the local government workers at the cost of N108m,” Otu disclosed, arguing that if he was corrupt, he would not have achieved also much in the short period.
Otu who insisted that Urhobotoday should execute an independent investigation on his activities as Chairman of the Transition Committee Council said the petitioners are framing allegation against him because he turned down their alleged demand for N10m as bribe.
Reacting to allegation of non-qualification for the position Otu said, “I did not impersonate as a degree holder. Delta State Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan and members of Delta State House of Assembly who verified my credentials knew I am not a degree holder before they appointed me. So what is the big thing about it?”
Reacting to the petition, a staff of DESOPADEC, Mr. Ibru Nejuvie, an indigene of Okwagbe, Ughelli Souht Local Government Area gave Otu cresdit on performance, saying since he assumed the position of the local government boss he has won the heart of the people with his performance.
“Otu is doing very well since he assumed the office of the transition committee chairman of the local government. He is a grassroots’ man and could be accessible by all. The people like him. I do not see him as a corrupt man. When he came into office, he removed all ghost workers from salary voucher and single handed paid three months salary arrears. If he was corrupt as the petition made us to believe, he would not have been able to achieve this feat. The workers are very happy with him,” he affirmed.
Looking at the claim of the petitioners from the angle of non-qualification, a Lagos based Lawyer, Barr. Sonny Toweh, an indigene of Umolo in Ughelli South local government area said the chairman has not breached the constitution in any form.
According to him, “I have not seen anything wrong with the aspect of qualification as much as he did not impersonate. The constitution did not stipulate that a local government chairman must have a first degree.
“What I understood is that a person shall be qualified for election for the office of Chairman of Council if he is a citizen of Nigeria by birth, he has attained the age of 30 years, he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party and he has been educated up to at least school Certificate level or its equivalent. If Otu meets this criteria it means he is qualified for the job. I do not know if Delta State has promulgated another law, but the aforementioned qualifications relate to other states.”

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