Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Ex-SGF, Pius Anyim, PDP chieftain fight dirty over multibillion naira centenary project scam

The National Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, South-South zone, Cairo Ojougboh, has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari asking him to investigate the immediate past Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim, over alleged multibillion naira scam.

Mr. Ojougboh, in a five-page letter, dated July 21, to Mr. Buhari, alleged that the Centenary City project in Abuja, which was built by the Federation Government but which construction was coordinated by the former SGF as part of the activities to mark Nigeria’s 100 years as nation, was a scam.

He said the government had no equity in the project and that Mr. Anyim, a former senate president, was the sole owner of the 3000 acres of the land owned by the Centenary City.

Mr. Ojougboh disclosed the contents of his letter to Mr. Buhari at a press conference he convened in Abuja on Monday to react to the protest by a group, New PDP Reformation Coalition and Support Groups.

Members of the group, led by one Danelsi Momoh, had during their protest at the national secretariat of the PDP on Monday, claimed that Mr.Ojougboh, a former member of the House of Representatives, was planning to contest for the position of the national chairman of the party and that he would ruin the platform if elected.

“Behind the threat to the PDP is the inordinate ambition of one man, PDP Vice Chairman, South-South zone, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, in his quest to hijack the party for his selfish interest has contrived all manner of crisis to make sure the PDP dies,” the group alleged.

“It appears the plan is for Dr. Ojougboh to weaken the PDP and if possible rush it into oblivion to allow the APC operate without any credible opposition and thus set the ground for a large-scale misrule of the country.”

They also accused Mr. Ojougboh of masterminding the murder of some top politicians in the South-South region, including Aminasoari Dikibo of the PDP and Harry Marshall of the defunct All Peoples Party.

At the press conference, the former lawmaker alleged that Mr. Anyim sponsored the protest over some outstanding issues between him (former SGF) and the Nigerian Export Zonal Authority, NEPZA) whose board he (Ojougboh) chaired.

He said Mr. Anyim failed to answer questions relating to his personal interest in the Centenary City, and whether he declared such interest to the Federal Government.

Mr. Ojougboh asked, “According to the NEPZA Act, does the Centenary City qualify as a free zone? Does the law establishing FCT allow for a free zone i.e is it in the Abuja Master Plan?

“How did Pius Anyim obtain N1.2 billion he paid from his company’s account as resettlement fees? Is the money from the NDDC? On whose custody is the C of O of the Centenary City?”

Mr. Ojougboh said the protest by the group showed “how desperate the former SGF and former Senate President can go to cling unto his spoil of office without putting into consideration the millions of Nigerians he is depriving of the dividends of democracy.”

He said a few days ago, Mr. Anyim announced that he had sued him (Ojougboh) for N1 billion and that when that did not intimidate him, he (Anyim) immediately resorted to crude tactics and blackmail.

“These activities of Pius Anyim are pure anti-party activity and accusing a senior member of his party of this heinous act is bringing the party to dishonour,” he said. “I urge Senator Pius Anyim to seek the path of truth, own up to being the sole owner of the Centenary City and return same to the good people of Nigeria.”

Mr. Ojougboh said he had instructed his lawyers to petition the Government of United Arab Emirate, the Nigerian Immigration Service, European Union, the German Government and the African Human Rights Commission over the issue.

He also urged the Inspector General of Police to investigate the murder allegations against him and asked the PDP “to ignore the ranting of this mass of protoplasm but to join hands together in building a strong united and virile party for the upcoming elections”.

Also, in the letter to Mr. Buhari, the former lawmaker recounted how he was appointed NEPZA chairman by former President Goodlcuk Jonathan after the 2011 elections.

He said on October 24, 2014, he got a petition from MC Pal Consult, an Abuja-based law firm accusing NEPZA of misappropriation of funds, corruption and impunity.

Some of the allegations, according to him, were the alleged misappropriation of $5 billion paid to NEPZA and that the entity called Centenary City was an affiliate of NEPZA and that it (NEPZA) failed to disclose the interest of the promoters of the project to Nigerians.

Mr. Ojougboh said on December 21, 2014, he also received another petition from the Anti-Corruption Network led by Senator Dino Melaye alleging that ‘the idea of certifying the Centenary City as a free zone was to give import duty waiver to the owners of the project through the backdoor”.

He told Mr. Buhari that his initial response was to ignore the two petitions thinking they were frivolous and lacking merit.

He said when Mr. Melaye later addressed a world press conference, he recognized the severity of the matter and immediately got in touch with the Managing Director of NEPZA, Gbenga Kuye, for his response to the allegations.

“He said when Mr. Kuye feigned ignorance of the issues raised he asked the board of NEPZA to convene a meeting.

“Senator Anyim Pius, a former Secretary to the Federal Government ordered the MD of NEPZA, Mr. Gbenga Kuye not to allow the board meeting to hold within the premises of NEPZA. The board then relocated the meeting to the Transcorp Hilton Hotel,” Mr. Ojougboh said.

He said the Certificate of Occupancy of the free trade zones are kept in the custody of the Federal Government via NEPZA but that it was not the case with the Centenary City, which he alleged was used as collateral to obtain loan from banks.

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