The Edo State Government on Wednesday said that it had begun moves to recover $31m which it said was allegedly “fraudulently taken” from the government coffers, during the administration of former Governor Lucky Igbinedion.
According to a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Peter Okhiria, on Wednesday, the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Louis Odion, disclosed this at the end of the State Executive Council meeting.
The commissioner said, “There is the issue of a fraud that was discovered while looking into our books. We found that $31m was fraudulently taken from the state coffers under the administration of Chief Lucky Igbinedion. The comrade governor has directed the Attorney-General to commence a legal action in that direction.
“So, in the coming days, the state government will take a legal action to ensure that what was stolen from the Edo State Government is recovered. When you convert $31m to naira, it fetches you a whooping N7bn. You can imagine what N7bn will do in improving the human condition in Edo State.”
The commissioner praised some landlords and companies in the state for their compliance with the payment of the land use charge.
Also speaking, the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Abdul Oroh, alleged that the $31m was allegedly used to fund a cement firm in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of the state.
Oroh said, “As the money was withdrawn, the construction of the company started and all the major structures were in place, 90 per cent completed, machines were installed but there was no other contribution from any other source for the construction and procurement of these equipment. So, everything invested in that company came from the Edo State Government.”
He also accused the Igbinedion administration of allegedly privatising the state fruit juice processing company at a “giveaway” price.
“The fruit juice processing company in Ehor was established in 2001 by the Lucky Igbinedion’s administration. The cost of establishing that company was N368,458,195 invested in this company by the Edo State Government. The company was owned 100 per cent by the Edo State Government. The materials for the company were imported from England from a company at a sum of £310,000,” he said.
Oroh added, “The company was now sold including the land and the three hectares pineapple farm which was also developed by the Ministry of Agriculture for N283.8m. The company was completed and there was a test-run. There was no reason to privatise it and it was sold out at a giveaway price which only could have been influenced by criminal intentions.’’
Efforts to get the comments of the former governor failed but a source close to him said Igbinedion would react to the allegations later.