The Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, is in trouble with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The commission said last night it had discovered that Umahi collected the sum of N400 million allocated to the PDP in the state to compromise last year’s Presidential poll but he diverted the cash to two of his companies and used it to build two hotels in Port Harcourt and Abakiiki.
The commission has already arrested and questioned many suspects, including bank officials, who have made statements linking the governor and his companies. EFCC sources said, “This case involving some chieftains of the PDP in Ebonyi State and some companies emanated from the alleged N23,2999,705,000, disbursed by the erstwhile Petroleum Resources Minister, Mrs Diezani Alison Madueke during the 2015 Presidential election out of which N400million was traced to Ebonyi State.
“In the State, Kelechi Igwe (incumbent Deputy Governor ), Fidelis Nwanwko and Ambassador Frank N. Ogbuewu collected the money to prosecute the 2015 general election.
“The duo of Fidelis Nwankwo and Ambassador Frank N. Ogbuewu were invited and they disclosed that they collected the N400million from Fidelity Bank and handed it over to Access Bank on the directive of the then Deputy Governor who is now the incumbent Governor, Engr. David Umahi.
“The Operations Manager of Access Bank Abakaliki was invited and he revealed that the money was paid into the accounts of Osborn La-Palm Royal Resort Ltd and Brass Engineering & Construction Nig. Ltd. domiciled in Abakaliki.
“The statement of the accounts of the companies that were analysed disclosed that the sum of three N300million was paid into the account of Osborn La-Palm Royal Resort Ltd and N100 million into the account of Brass Engineering & Construction Nig. Ltd and subsequently withdrawn by Chinyere Egwuche.
“The movement of the fund from one account to another and the subsequent cash withdrawal of N300million in tranches of N50million are clear features of money laundering. “The above companies were discovered to have been incorporated by the incumbent Governor of Eonyi State in 1993 and 2011 respectively.
“Consequently, letters of invitation were written to the Managing Directors of the companies where the money was paid but the letters were returned undelivered as the addressees refused to collect them.
“Thereafter, Austin Umahi, Maxwell Umahi, Chinyere Egwuche and Mabel Dikibo were arrested. Investigation revealed that Chinyere Egwuchu and Mabel Dikibo were the signatories to the account of the companies.
“It was also discovered that one of the suspects, Chinyere withdrew the N300million paid into the account of Osborn La-Palm which, according to her was used to further construction of Osborn La-Palm hotels in Abakaliki, Uburu and Port Harcourt, while the N100million paid into the account of Brass Engineering and Construction Nigeria Limited was transferred to a certain David Umahi Faith Foundation. They volunteered statement and were released on bail to reliable sureties.
“In furtherance of this investigation, the property belonging to the companies were identified and the Commission’s stickers “Under Investigation” were placed on them. However, legal machineries are being set in motion to seal the companies in case the suspects refused to wholly refund the monies that were fraudulently collected by them.”
“In the meantime, the sum of N90million has been refunded. Investigation is still in progress,” a top EFCC official confirmed.