Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay, on Thursday gave an assurance to ensure that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigate and prosecute failed contractors or whosoever were involved in the multi-billion naira construction and development of Ugborodo New Town, Warri, Delta State.
Sagay gave this pledge when he received aggrieved Itsekiri mothers led by an activist, Chief (Mrs.) Rita Lori Ogbebor in his office at Surulere in Lagos, who had come to solicit his support on the issue.
According to Ogbebor and the aggrieved women, who warned of dire consequence that could threaten activities of the oil companies operating in the area if the matter was not handled properly, Chevron and other oil majors, among others had since 1999 committed several billions of naira to the construction of the new town.
She said regrettably as of today, Ugborodo community had been taken over by the sea and all efforts to save it from being washed away were being thwarted by some kinsmen who had been entrusted at different times with money for the development of the area.
“But apart from 15 (fifteen) units of bungalows at foundation level in the community, there is nothing on ground to show for this humongous amount earmarked and disbursed for the building of Ugborodo New Town,” Ogbebor, the Igba of Warri and others said in their petition to Sagay.
She said this was in spite of the fact that available record with DESOPADEC showed that the project was completed and 100per cent fully paid for, urging Prof. Sagay to step in and save the helpless and suffering people of Ugborodo as money meant to develop the area was being squandered by few people with nothing being done to deter them.
“I would take this up,” Sagay assured, even as he urged that there was a need for the Itsekiri to put in place a structure like the Ijaws and Urhobos that would monitor how things were being run in a proper manner to the benefit of all.
The PACAC chairman, while acknowledging that Ishekiri women were already mobilized towards this goal, tasked the youth in the area to rise up, get together and put a stop to the menace.
“We must have the structure in place, something that would serve as a monitoring committee. We have to do it. The Ijaws will not accept this, the Urhobos will not accept such.
“Apart from me taking this up. The women are mobilized. The youth must rise up, the youth need to get together and put a stop to it. It mustn’t continue,” he vowed.
This was just as he noted that act of diverting money meant for Itsekiris was a recent development, saying that such “devilish thing” was unheard of “in days of Shagari” as decent people were involved in the running of affairs in the area.
“Youth must organise and put a stop to this,” Prof. Sagay charged, contending that those who had been involved in the said fraud had continued to perpetuate the act because they knew nothing would happen to them.
Speaking earlier, Chief (Mrs.) Ogbebor lamented the plight of her people, who she said were helpless and suffering due to the failed contracts since 1999, and the need to save Ugborodo from being washed away by the sea.
“We are Itsekiri mothers from the Warri Kingdom in Delta State. We have come to see you as our illustrious son and elder who has been very vocal on all matters in this country where illegality, evil, marginalization and above all corruption is practised. You have spoken without fear and without showing me.
“It is for this reason that we are sure you were made the Chairman of the Anti- Corruption Committee, whose responsibilities you are carrying out diligently,” she said.
On the construction and development of the New Ugborodo Town, Ogbebor disclosed that monies meant for the project since 1999, including a sum of $6million by Chevron, N1billion by DESPADEC in 2011, had so far translated to 15 units of bungalows at foundation level.
“Since then, all that Ugborodo community in particular and the Itsekiri Ethnic Nationality, in general, have heard is a rather deafening silence from all the parties.
“The rumours making the roads in the Itsekiri nation is that persons alleged to have misappropriated the funds are boasting that they have “closed the case,” she said.
Chief Ogbebor, therefore, demanded on behalf the women that Prof. Sagay use his good offices to investigate and bring perpetrators of the alleged crime to justice, saying that the good people of Ugborodo community looked forward to the construction and development of the new town.
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