Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Housing and Town Planning Ime Okon Ekpo has denied allegation that he embezzled over N4billion in the N37billion contract awarded for the design and building of Government House, Uyo.
The contract was awarded by the ex-Governor Godswill Akpabio administration.
Ekpo retired from the civil service as director in 2004 and was appointed by Akpabio to oversee the Government House contract as project manager in 2008.
But the Chairman of Otto Trinity Studios, one of the consultants to the project, Ubokutom Nyah, has instituted a petition on behalf of four other consultants, alleging that the commissioner defrauded them to the tune of over N4billion in the construction of phases l, ll and lll of the project.
The petition, dated August 24, with copies made available to reporters, is titled: “Petition against Architect Ime O. Ekpo for corrupt enrichment, abuse of office and fraudulent conversion of more than N4 billion consultancy fees during execution of Government House Complex, Phase l, ll and lll in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State”.
Nyah, in the petition addressed to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) chairman in Abuja averred that in 2013, the Akpabio administration awarded a contract for the building of a new Government House at about N37billion.
The contract, he said, was to be executed in three phases, namely phase l, ll and lll with five consultants- Otto Trinity Studios (Architects), Amana Consortium (Structural/Project Manager), Eno Iwoketo and Associate (Mechanical), Dranibs Engineering Nigeria Ltd (Electrical) and Integrated Practice Consultants (Quality Surveyors) appointed for professional service.
The petitioner, who was appointed lead architectural consultant by the government over the Government House project, alleged that “the professional fees of those consultants were discussed, agreed and N5.2 billion made available for payment to the consultants.”
The consultancy fee, according to him, was moved by the government into the account of Julius Berger Nigeria PLC under the contract agreement for disbursement to the beneficiaries.
Nyah alleged that the commissioner failed to administer the funds to commensurate with the contract agreement, adding that he shortchanged the consultants and diverted over N4billion to his private account.
”The substantial disparity between what Ekpo is offering us as balance of professional fees payable and over authentic claims is deserving of a dispassionate investigation because we know that authentic fees were captured in the contract and provided for by the government.”