An insider source within the Delta State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) has exposed a web of corruption orchestrated by Unini Byron, a Permanent Secretary of the board. The information holds that Byron has been systematically looting public funds, using a complex network of over 40 registered companies to secure lucrative SUBEB contracts, amassing a fortune in the process.
Unini’s tenure as a PS at SUBEB has raised eyebrows as it appears to be an unprecedented move. Typically, Permanent Secretaries are assigned to ministries, and SUBEB was not designed to accommodate this role from its inception.
According to our insider source, Byron has established more than 40 companies using various individuals as fronts. He instructs these individuals to register these companies, after which he directs them to bid for SUBEB projects. Shockingly, the contracts are then awarded to these same companies, effectively channeling public funds into his coffers through the back door.
Unini does this to dodge Part V Section 22 (6) (h) of the State’s procurement law, which mandates bidders to accompany their bids with certificates of registration or incorporation from the Corporate Affairs Commission.
The PS’ wealth seems to have grown substantially through these questionable practices, with properties reportedly scattered across Agbor and Delta State. He is alleged to be the richest Permanent Secretary in the state, a position that should not be the case given his role and income source.
The gravity of this corruption is further compounded by the significant funding that SUBEB receives. Our investigation revealed that the board received over 1.8 billion naira this year alone through counterpart funding in collaboration with the state government. The misuse of these substantial resources raises serious concerns about the effective delivery of basic education services in the state.
Unini’s proximity to the former governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, adds another layer of intrigue to this story. It is unclear whether Okowa had any knowledge of these alleged illegal activities during Byron’s tenure.
We gathered that the current governor, Mr. Sheriff Oborevwori, whose election is being challenged in court, is daft to the fraud happening in SUBEB and not even aware that a PS like Unini exists.
Furthermore, our source claims that Byron extracts a hefty commission, earning between 7 to 8 million naira every the board awards a contract. This is often done under the pretext of following the governor’s instructions, which raises suspicions about the transparency and credibility of the contract awarding process.
The Delta State Public Procurement Law, 2020, which came into force on April 30, 2020, provides clear guidelines for public procurement. Part V Section 22 of the law emphasized transparency, competitiveness, and accountability. It mandates open competitive bidding and specifies that bidders must possess the necessary qualifications, financial capability, and legal capacity to enter into procurement contracts. Furthermore, companies are required to disclose any pecuniary interests involving officers of the relevant committees of the procurement entity to prevent conflicts of interest.
SecretReporters also gathered that representatives from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Ministry of Education, and other oversight bodies often present during bid opening have been compromised.