The true story about the corruption scandal involving Niger Delta minister
- How Government backed documents cleared him of fraud and abuse of office
- Documents revealed
By Haruna Mohammed, Abuja
Documents exclusively obtained by AljazirahNigeria yesterday has apparently cleared the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Uguru Usani, of allegations of fraud and abuse of office which had been leveled against him in recent months.
Social media was bombarded with news of an indictment of the minister on allegations of fraud and abuse of office while he was a state official in Cross Rivers State.
In the report, which went viral, Usani, who was the Commissioner for Agriculture, Water Resources, and Rural Development during the last military administration in the state, which was headed by Col. U. F Ahmed (Rtd) had been accused by the state government in 2000 of corrupt enrichment while in office.
The state had also reportedly sent his name to the Code of Conduct Bureau for investigation and possible arrest over the claims.
In the said report, a contract which was awarded by g Usani which was investigated by a committee set up by the state and titled in a Gazette as ‘The Case of Gersh Henshaw & Company,’ showed that the minister defrauded the state of a sum of N16,323,150.
In the contract which was for the valuation of vehicles, workshops/equipment of the Cross-River State Water Board, Usani was alleged to have awarded a company- (Gersh Henshaw & Company, Estate Surveyors, and Valuers) the contract and subsequently paid them N20,750,000 for the execution of the contract.
The committee noted that the fee awarded was on the high side as they ought to have been paid only N4,426,850.
The committee then recommended that the sum of N16,323,150, being the excess of the payment, be recovered from Usani.
However, AljazirahNigeria found out that that the state government later wrote a letter to the CCB asking that the case it instituted against the minister be withdrawn as it had fresh facts that he, as well as others were wrongly accused.
The state government formally requested that they be left off the hook.
The CCB replied a few weeks later confirming that the case had been withdrawn and the minister had been cleared of all wrongdoing based on the letters written on his behalf by his home state and CCB’s independent findings.
In a letter (SSG/GSA/S/470/VOL 1/33O), dated 5th July 2001, the state government through a document signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Walter Eneji and addressed to the chairman of the CCB, withdrew all allegations emanating from the “Cross River State Government White Paper on the report of financial impropriety verification standing committee (Official document No 5 of 2000).’’
Apart from Usani, others who were absolved of corrupt enrichment were Dr Ayi Ekpo Archibong, Dr Josephat Okey, Engr Pius Okpa, Navy Capt. CI Osondu, Group Capt. Gregory Agboneni and Col UF Ahmed.
Also in 12th September 2001, the CCB under instructions from the Attorney General of the Federation, wrote a letter to the Cross River State government informing it that it was discontinuing with the case and that the matter had been struck out immediately.
The letter (CCB/HQ/IM/007/102) was signed by the legal adviser of the CCB, J.J Ndupu.
The minister has always maintained his innocence all through his ordeal.
When AljazirahNigeria spoke with him, a visibly elated Usani had this to say:
“I am happy with the investigative job being done by AljazirahNigeria especially on this story. It is unlike the ‘paid job’ other media houses who reported the incident did. Most of them did not do a proper inquiry before running to press. The documents have spoken for themselves. I have no corrupt history. I am clean and I am happy I am working under an incorruptible president. My detractors have failed,” he said.
Copies of the letter as obtained by AljazirahNigeria are displayed below-