Following allegations of Multi-billion fraud, inflation of contracts, and extra-budgetary expenses spotted in the Akwa Ibom State Accountant General’s annual report, as well as the State Government’s stance that the discrepancies were caused by “coding errors”, financial documents detailing monumental embezzlement using fictitious items, are beginning to emerge as proof that the Office of the Accountant General of the State has for long being pilfering tax-payers funds.
One of such items discovered which stinks of the deep-rooted padding process as seen by SecretReporters is the “establishment of a website.”
According to the 2019 Akwa Ibom State Budget, while N165 million was initially budgeted for the establishment of a website for the Office of the Accountant General of the State spearheaded by Pastor Uwem Andrew-Essien, a whooping sum of N53.7 million was surprisingly released as the actual amount for the project which its existence could not be confirmed.
Industry experts, however, revealed that while the average cost of designing, building, and hosting a standard static website is about N300,000, a dynamic website on the other hand which might need daily or monthly updates will cost nothing more than N500,000, thus for an Office such as the OAGS whose most recent post on its acclaimed official Facebook page dates back to 2018, N53.7 million was a cashout.
As though the amount released in 2019 for the fictitious website was not enough for Pastor Uwem, a Pastor of the Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel), the item was again inserted in the 2021 state budget, this time with the sum of N50 million proposed for it.
Despite the State Government’s claim of a coding error unarguably to cover up a possible conduit through which state funds are been siphoned, the Onna-born accountant who once served as Special Assistant (SA) to Governor Udom Emmanuel on Due Process before he was posted to the Office of Accountant-General as Director of Accounts in showcasing his expertise in financial malfeasances, according to sources has allegedly been using his position overtime as the Accountant General of State to insert and signoff projects worth billions undetected.
Nevertheless, since the allegations became a topic in the public domain, there have been calls for the Accountant General who hails from the same place as the Governor to step aside to aid proper investigation and prosecution where necessary, as his continuous stay in office only hints of a possible collaboration with bigwigs in the corridors of power in Akwa Ibom State.
When contacted by our Newsroom for his reaction, the State Accountant General Pastor Uwem Andrew-Essien did not pick or return calls placed to his known mobile line, he also did not respond to SMS sent to him as at press time.