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EFCC storms Abia over N3.3bn scam - Goes after gov's wife, commissioner

Nigerian Tribune | 11/18/2009
Lanre Adewole, Abujabr
Wednesday, November 18, 2009

OPERATIVES of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have been in Abia State since last week, in connection with an alleged N3.3 billion contract scam rocking the state.

The commission's spokesperson, Mr. Femi Babafemi, confirmed the presence of the operatives in the state, but declined comments on their mission.

It was, however, gathered from another source that the operatives were laying ambush for the wife of Governor Theodore Orji, Theresa; the state Commissioner for Works and Transport, Kalu Ogbuagu and another government functionary, Mrs. Agu Vivian.

Those being sought in connection with the alleged scam were said to have gone underground when they got wind of the presence of the operatives in the state.

The alleged scam was said to have been blown into the open by an American lady, Mrs. Miranda Nwadei, who was said to be married to a Nigerian.

The American, who is said to be a contractor to the state government, reportedly petitioned the anti-corruption agency, following an alleged underhand dealing in a N3.3 billion contract given her by the state government to supply 1,500 units of Chevrolet cars.

It was gathered that after the contract was signed, the wife of the governor allegedly called her to a meeting and requested that she should assist the first family in opening a coded bank account in the United States for the purpose of transferring money from Nigeria.

The American lady was said to have rejected the proposal, reportedly saying that the American government would jail her if she did so.

From this point, the state government reportedly started dragging its feet on the execution of the contract, with a source in EFCC saying that "they had no intention of getting her to supply any car; the contract was simply to siphon public money."

Before the contract was sealed with her, it was said that she had been made to part with N11.8 million by the commissioner of transport under the guise of making her to pay contract fee which, according to the commission source, "had no documentation".

The contractor was also said to have imported four units of the Chevrolet car and made them available to the state government as sample, with the governor's wife reportedly collecting three of the cars while the fourth was said to have been collected by the commissioner.

The commission's operatives were said to have recovered the car with the commissioner, while access was said to have been denied to the three with the governor's wife.

It was when nothing was forthcoming from the state government despite the supply of sample and payment of contract fee that the American reportedly petitioned the anti-corruption agency.

The commission is also said to be probing the text messages exchanged among the governor, his wife and the American lady over the alleged proposal made to her on the opening of the coded account as well as the car supply contract.

According to the source, "The governor's wife and others went underground immediately they got wind of our operatives' presence in the state. We will continue to search for them until we get them."

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