By Okon Bassey in Uyo
The Commissioner for Housing and Town Planning in Akwa Ibom State Mr. Ime O. Ekpo has been dragged before the Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) for an alleged fraud of over N4 billion.
Ekpo reportedly retired from government service in 2004 as a Director but was appointed by then state government of Governor Godswill Akpabio as project manager for the execution of the Government House Project which had gulped about N37 billion.
Â The head of Otto Trinity Studios, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Ubokutom Nyah instituted the petition on behalf of four other consultants that were engaged in the construction of the Akwa Ibom Government House complex, phases l, ll, lll, Uyo where Ekpo allegedly committed the fraud.
Â The petition dated August 24, 2017 a copy made available to THISDAY yesterday was captioned, â€œPetition 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 Stateâ€.
Â Nyah in the petition addressed to the Chairman of the ICPC, Abuja averred that in 2013 the immediate past state administration of Senator Godswill Akpabio awarded a contract for the construction of a new Government House for a contract value at about N37 billion.
Â The contract, he said was to be executed in three phases namely phase l, ll and lll respectively with four consultants namely 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.
Â The petitioner who was appointed Lead Architectural consultant by the state government over the Government House project said that the professional fees of those consultants were discussed, agreed and N5.2 billion made available for the payment of the consultancy to the consultants.
Â The consultancy fee was reportedly moved by the state government to the account of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc under the contract agreement for onward disbursement to the beneficiaries.
Â Nyah explained that it was from the pool of funds that the accused (Architect Ekpo) drew and administered same but regretted that all the consultants in the project were shortchanged with the balance allegedly pocketed.
Â â€œThe substantial disparity between what Architect Ime O. Ekpo is now offering us as balance of professional fees payable and over authentic claims is deserving of a dispassionate investigation because we all know that authentic fees were captured in the contract and fully provided for by government.
Â â€œWe do not know how it suddenly developed wings when Architect Ekpo collected same for payment to us. Please kindly investigate thoroughly to enable us recover our fees and assist us ensure justice is doneâ€, Nyah stressed and pleaded in the petition.