Some members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State, under the aegis of the Concerned Edo PDP Stakeholders, have petitioned the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for alleged diversion of state funds by the state governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki.
The group accused Obaseki of diverting the funds through the award of what they described as “fraudulent contracts” to his firm, Afrinvest Limited.
A copy of the petition, signed by Andrew Egboigbe, a PDP member in Ward 3, Orhionmwon LGA of Edo State, and submitted at the ICPC on Monday, was made available to journalists in Benin.
The petition, titled, ”Petition Against the unfairly (Unfair), Advantageous Awarding (Award) of Edo State Contracts to Afrinvest Limited by Mr Godwin Obaseki”, alleged that the governor abused his office in the award of inflated contracts to Afrinvest Limited, “in flagrant disregard for the constitutional provision, which guides the award of contracts.”
According to the petition: “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 Limited.
“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 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, they said, served as his stooge at the firm and helped him siphon state’s resources.
The petition stated that “One of such abuses of his official position was when Obaseki, single-handedly (single-handed), without the approval of his cabinet and legislative arms of government, awarded a N1.8 billion naira consultation contract on water storm project to Afrinvest Limited, 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.
“Afrinvest Limited has, on different occasions, served as front and pipe for Mr Godwin Obaseki’s diversion of state 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 N7.5 billion by Obaseki, since 2016, had been deposited in Afrinvest’s bank account.
According to them, Obaseki used the stashed funds, and what they described as other illegally-obtained profits, 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.”
According to the petitioners, “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 of 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 (among) Obaseki, Afrinvest and Primus Bank.”
In another development, they also petitioned the Central Bank to allege that the Primus Bank approved by the CBN was criminally funded by the governor through Afrinvest Limited.
See below copies of the petitions as submitted to and received by the ICPC and the CBN: