Coalition of Investigative Journalists of Nigeria (CIOJ)
In a blatant and deliberate disregard for extant law, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of Delta State and vice-presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Okowa awarded state contracts to his sons-in-law and other cronies, this is according to an independent investigation by the Coalition of Investigative Journalists of Nigeria (CIOJ).
Recall that Okowa’s choice by Atiku as his running mate in the 2023 general elections has continued to tear the PDP apart. Surprisingly, the PDP at the Delta State level which Governor Okowa leads is also engulfed with intrigues and crisis over the governor’s choice of its gubernatorial candidate.
A comprehensive audit and investigation carried out by CIOJ on the administration of the Delta governor allegedly exposed massive corruption in the system.
The CIOJ is in possession of documents that demonstrate a pattern in what appears to be an alleged money-laundering scheme, where Governor Okowa arbitrarily awarded contracts to firms connected to his daughters, their husbands, and his close aides without following the proper documentation and procedures as stipulated by the Nigerian laws.
By law, Governor Okowa should not award contracts to companies belonging to his close relatives or serving government officials.
The document contains the 2020 audit of companies awarded contracts and payments made by the Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa-led government, wherein it was discovered that a series of payments were made to specific companies without documented vouchers containing full particulars of each service such as dates, numbers, quantities, distances, and rates, all of which were invariably not supported by relevant documents such as LPOs, invoices, special letters of authority, timesheets, rates etc.
Gov. Okowa Awards Contract to First Son-in-law
In one of the instances Governor Okowa allegedly ordered the payment of of N243,600,000 (Two Hundred and Forty-Three Million Six Hundred Thousand Naira) to VALUWORKS ENTERPRISES for the PROCUREMENT OF SECOND TRANCHE OF VEHICLES FOR TRADITION RULERS IN DELTA CENTRAL SENATORIAL DISTRICT.
It was observed that the fund for the procurement which was approved between 10/7/2019 to 30/7/2019 was fully paid.
The money released to the company, our investigation revealed, is the second tranche for the purchase implying that the sum of N243,600,000 or more might have been released to the company previously for the same purpose. This gives a total of N487,200,000 paid to the company.
Checks revealed that none of these contract awards was bidded for as stipulated in the procurement law.
Further digs by CIOJ, however, revealed that VALUWORKS ENTERPRISES is owned by GBOLAHAN MICHAEL-DARAMOLA, who got married to the governor’s daughter, MARILYN, in 2015.
VALUWORKS ENTERPRISES was incorporated in Abuja, Nigeria with registration number 2549452. It was registered on 24 October 2017 (two years after Governor Okowa assumed office) and its current status is unknown. The company’s registered office address is Flat 1, House 2, Silas Ilo Close, Guzape, Abuja.
Gov. Okowa Awards Contract To Second Son-in-law
The PDP vice-presidential candidate also awarded a contract of N243,600,000 (Two Hundred and Forty-Three Million Six Hundred Thousand Naira) to SAVVY WORKS ENTERPRISES for the PROCUREMENT OF SECOND TRANCHE OF VEHICLES FOR TRADITIONAL RULERS IN DELTA NORTH SENATORIAL DISTRICT from the Directorate of Government House and Protocol account.
The money for the procurement was approved between 10/7/2019 to 30/7/2019 and was fully paid.
The money released to the company, investigation shows, was the second tranche for the purchase implying that the sum of N243,600,000 or more may have been released to the company previously for the same purpose. This also gives a total of N487,200,000 (Four Hundred and Eighty-Seven Million Two Hundred Thousand Naira) paid to the company.
Investigation by CIOJ revealed that SAVVYWORKS ENTERPRISES is owned by EHIMARIO UCHE IGUMBOR, husband of another of the governor’s daughter, MILDRED.
SAVVY WORKS ENTERPRISES was incorporated in Abuja, Nigeria with registration number 2549404. It was registered on 24 Oct 2017 (two years after the governor assumed office) and its current status is unknown. Company’s registered office address is Flat 1, House 2, Silas Ilo Close, Guzape, Abuja.
In another alleged scheme to defraud Deltans, Governor Okowa, in 2016, handed over the Delta State Lottery Commission to a company, DIGITAL GAMING SYSTEMS, with the impression that the lottery commission is managed by an expert. But investigation by CIOJ revealed the company is owned by MARK STUART SHENTON, a Briton married to the governor’s younger sister, Ivana. More shocking is that SHENTON lacks even a year’s expertise on lotto business. The commission is, however, nothing to write home about. Recall the governor was accused of using Ivana as front for contracts awarded to North China Construction Company, the firm building the N16 billion state secretariat located along Okpanam Road, Asaba
Delta Govt. Keeps Mum
CIOJ contacted Mr. Charles Aniagwu, the Delta State Commissioner for Information for the governor’s angle to the allegations but there was no response as at press time.
NB: This is the first part of on-going series of investigations on the alleged corruption in the Delta State government led by Senator Ifeanyi Okowa.