By Geoffrey Ekenna:
Ukachukwu: We will meet in court
He prefixes his name with the deeply religious title of Evangelist, and leads a Christian denomination in Apo Legislative Quarters of Abuja where he regularly organises crusades to save lost souls.
But investigators of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) believe that, going by their findings on the alleged looting of Nasarawa State, Prince Nicholas Chukwujekwu Ukachukwu, is anything but Godly.
Ukachukwu was the candidate of the Hope Democratic Party in the February 6, 2010 governorship election in Anambra State. His Prince & Princess estate in Area One, Abuja, is believed to be the largest private estate in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
EFCC believes that the politician and businessman was one of the fronts of the immediate past Nasarawa State Governor, Alhaji Abdulahi Adamu whom it arraigned on Wednesday this week, for allegedly looting the treasury while in office.
The politician, in a telephone interview last night with the Nigerian Compass on Saturday, expressed confidence that the case of the anti-graft agency against him would not stand judicial scrutiny.
The 49-year-old businessman, who heads the Ukachukwu Evangelistic Ministry in Abuja, simply said: “It is well.”
When urged to expatiate on his comment, the politician declined, noting that the matter is already in court. He said: “They are free to say what they want. What will I say? We will meet in court.”
Ukachukwu, 49, an indigene of Osumenyi in Nnewi South Local Government area of Anambra State, is believed by EFCC operatives to have gone underground and may be holed up somewhere in the Eastern part of the country.
He declined disclosing where he was when the call by the Nigerian Compass on Saturday to his phone line succeeded. Ukachukwu, however, pledged to show up in court when the matter comes up.
The allegations against him and former Governor Adamu are quite weighty: According to the EFCC, Ukachukwu is the chairman of Snecou Group of Companies through which billions of Naira belonging to the state was stolen. Organisations in the group include: Henry & Nick Associates Company Ltd, Prince & Princess Property Ltd, Riok International Ltd, and Niccus Industries Ltd.
For example, a contract of N1,147,770,370 for various projects was said to have been awarded to Niccus Industries Ltd. without due process. Alhaji Adamu ordered the immediate payment for the contract which include the construction of Administrative and Engineering blocks at the Nasarawa Polytechnic; provision of floodlight, electronic scoreboard, extension of Very Important Personality (VIP) stand, a standby generator and Generator House at the Lafia Stadium for about N299 million.
EFCC investigators, however, found out that the generator House was neither built nor a generator bought.
Again, the extension of the VIP stand was discovered not to be more than 10 metres, yet Ukachukwu was paid N200 million upfront for it.
Another controversial contract that he got, according to the EFCC, was the one for the construction of the Nasarawa State liaison office in Abuja which was awarded to Messrs Henry & Nick Ltd in 2005 for N2 billion (N2,151,680,359). The contract was funded by the state government via an Irrevocable Standing Order (ISO). The former governor solely instructed the payment to be effected even at the preliminary stage when it was abandoned in 2007.
Sometime in 2002, Adamu also gave Henry & Nick Associates contract for the construction of and equipping of a soap factory in Akwanga for N420 million. The contract paper was purportedly signed by the Commissioner for Commerce and Industries, Mr Damishi Luka, whom the EFCC has found out, was neither aware of adverts placed for it, not partook in the bidding exercise. The money was fully paid. Although he did not attempt to supply the equipment as contained in the contract, Ukachukwu got yet another N149 million as variation cost at the commencement of the project, even when the contact agreement expressly states that there will be no variation of any kind.
The were more finding against Adamu and Ukachukwu by the EFCC: A contract for the equipping of three hospitals in three senatorial districts of the state was awarded to Prince & Princess Properties for N1.5 billion. The investigators found out that no equipment was supplied and no ambulance was bought, yet money was paid.
Another contract for the procurement of some hospital equipment was given to Ukachukwu’s Riok International Limited. It was discovered that no such equipment was supplied, yet N1.2 billion was paid.
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