A tweet by a Nigerian non-governmental organization, United Action for Women and Youths Org with the handle @justsociety4all, has accused the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremmadu, of diverting N400m meant for a Renal Centre project in the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Ituku Ozalla, Enugu. According to the tweet, the UNTH special project team approached Ekweremmadu to help fast-track funding for the project through a government intervention program, and he asked them to submit a proposal, which they did. The proposal was for 400 million Naira, which was to be used to build the structure, procure equipment, and train doctors abroad for renal transplants and other special renal emergency training.
However, Ekweremmadu allegedly asked the team to double the money to N800m, with the extra N400m meant for him to facilitate the release of the funds. The report further stated that after waiting for a long time, UNTH made contact with the ministry involved but to their surprise, they were told to submit a progress report on the project status to access the remaining 50% of the funds as they had nothing to show for the initial 50%. However, it was discovered that Ekweremmadu had already facilitated the release of 50% of the fund which is N400m meant for the project and diverted all of it to his coffers without the knowledge of UNTH.
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The allegations against Ekweremmadu made in the tweet have generated reactions from Nigerians and other users on Twitter. While some are sceptical about the authenticity of the claim and questioned how the funds were released into Ekweremmadu’s account and not UNTH’s, others are outraged at the Deputy Senate President’s alleged actions.
Ebikapade Amasuomo @EbiXkapade tweeted, “These are weighty allegations; I hope this is a joke!”
Uchenna #LekkiMassacre expressed shock and called for evidence to corroborate the claim. “I know Ekweremadu is a member of the establishment politicians in Nigeria having been in the Senate since 2003 (2yrs). But these are very weighty allegations. Is any evidence to corroborate your claim in the public domain?”
Another user Neph @chukavigi questioned how the Ministry of Finance could pay money for the renal facility into the account of a sitting senator instead of UNTH’s account or the contractor’s account. “How did the ministry of finance pay money for renal facility into the account of a sitting senator? Shouldn’t it have been UNTH’s account or the account of the contractor who was suppose to build the renal facility? The story no complete.” he said.
Peter Ademu-Eteh @PeterPentecost shared a personal experience of contractors not receiving payment despite government officials claiming to have released funds, “I personally know of cases where staff working inside government agencies provide a fake account number on the real company’s letterhead and contract money is released there. Government believes they’ve paid money; but contractor hasn’t seen shishi” while The ARCHITECT @FaladeTolu_ corroborated the allegations, saying his brother was a Project Manager, and the Senate Speaker at the time asked for NGN450m upfront, assuring him he would influence their winning the project bid. “I believe this. Why? My brother was a Project Mgr, and the Senate speaker that year, was asking for NGN450m upfront assuring he will influence them winning the project bid. Baba said him oga just jejely withdraw, how much be the profit on the project?”
These reactions highlight the significance of the allegations and the need for thorough investigations into the matter. Many Nigerians opine that It is vital to ascertain the veracity of the claims and bring the embattled Deputy Senate President to book if found guilty despite the pronouncement by the UK court which found him and his wife, alongside a Nigerian doctor, guilty of human trafficking for the purpose of organ harvesting, as the diversion of funds meant for public projects is a major problem in Nigeria, and those found guilty of such actions must face the full weight of the law to serve as a deterrent to others.
It would be recalled that on March 23, 2023, Ike Ekweremmadu, his wife Beatrice, and a Nigerian doctor Obinna Obeta, were convicted in a British court of conspiring to exploit a young man by attempting to procure his Kidney for his daughter Sonia Ekweremmadu who needed an urgent kidney transplant.
As of the time of this report, there has been no official statement from the Deputy Senate President or the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital to collaborate or deny the allegation as it is expected that a statement would be released to clarify the situation and provide details on the steps being taken to investigate the allegations and possibly recover the alleged diverted funds.