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Published On: Tue, Jul 23rd, 2013

Uduaghan Sacks DESOPADEC HODs Over Fraud, Appoints Kinsman to Clean Up Mess

Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan

LAGOS JULY 23RD (URHOBOTODAY)-Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State has sacked all heads of departments at the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC). The governor’s dramatic decision to fire the commission’s top officials came in response to massive cases of fraud and corruption. But Mr. Uduaghan’s appointment of a man related to him to clean up all the extensive financial mess at the commission is raising eyebrows.
A senior staff of the commission told SaharaReporters that most of the sacked heads of department were neck-deep in fraud and a variety of corrupt practices. “Their corruption was so much that it brought the commission almost to collapse,” said the source. He added: “As a result Governor Uduaghan had no option than to fire all the HODs.”
Governor Uduaghan has appointed a man of Edo State originally simply identified as Alegbe to clean up the financial mess in the commission. Another source said Mr. Alegbe was a blood relative of the governor, even though they come from different states.
“The most corrupt HOD was the one in charge of projects, infrastructure and legal services,” one source told SaharaReporters.
A contractor who did some projects for the commission depicted the level of fraud in the agency. “Imagine a situation where you are awarded a contract of N20 million, but before an award letter is issued to you as the contractor, you must part with not less N2 million, N3 million. And it is even more as the case may be. Even when a contract is completed you must still part with huge sums of money before the contract is certified for payment.”
Our source at the commission stated that “the governor has been disturbed because of [a] series of fraudulent and corrupt practices going on in the commission.”
The departments whose heads were fired include legal, audit, projects and infrastructures, planning and research, community development, and investment.
A source disclosed that the sacked heads of department include Mr. Imonejie, Mr. Omayone, Mr. Obi, Mr. Emiko and Mr. Richard Kandey, adding that they were posted to head zonal offices of the commission. The source confirmed that the department of legal, planning and research had several “mind-blowing frauds and cases of unreconciled documents.”
Another source at the commission revealed that the commission was the subject of some 40 case files of corruption being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). “In fact, the sum of about N800 million goes from the coffers of the commission to the anti-graft agencies annually to ‘settle’ cases,” the source said. By “settle” he meant to offer bribes to officials of the anti-corruption agency in order to avoid arrest and prosecution.
“As of today the 40 cases of corruption with the anti-graft agencies have been reduced to only 7 and as we talk the N800 million the commission used as settlement has [been] reduced to N500 million annually. As a result of all this, there is no petition you will write against the commission to these anti-craft agencies that will see the light of the day all because of the annual servicing the commission gives to them.”
The source added: “The HOD in charge of legal in the commission has been a suspect that has been striking a kill and divide deal with the anti-graft agencies and as result the HOD was fired.”
Some staff of the commission spoke to SaharaReporters and lamented the spate of corruption at the commission. One of them alleged that officials of the commission “squander N4 billion each year in the name of security vote even though there are no crises at hand. He added: “The N4 billion is always received by Mr. Edema Tsewo, an acting Itsekiri Chief Security Officer (CSO) in the commission. In the end, the money is shared among [a] few persons in the commission and the ‘oga kpatakpata’ at the top.”
SaharaReporters tried to get a reaction from the commission’s chairman, Oritsuwa Kpogho, but he did not respond to calls and text messages to his mobile line. Contacted, the state’s commissioner for information, Mr. Chike Ogeah, simply said, “I have never heard any of this.”
Source: Saharareporters

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