Thursday, August 4

I didn’t divert road project funds – Orubebe

I didn’t divert road project funds – Orubebe

Elder Godsday Orubebe

A former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe, on Thursday distanced himself from the alleged diversion of funds earmarked for the East- West Road dualisation project.

The ex-minister spoke in Abuja while reacting to reports that the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has brought charges against him in relation to the project.

The ICPC, in a five-count charge filed before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), accused Orubebe, Oludare Lawrence Alaba, Ephraim Towelde Zaki and Gitto Construction Limited of allegedly diverting close to N2 billion naira meant for the dualisation of Section IV of the East- West Road.

Orubebe, who said he was yet to be served with the charge, said payment for the project was made by his predecessor, Ufot Ekaete, who incidentally is from Eket, where the project was to be executed.

The ex-minister said he was interrogated on the issue last year by the ICPC and that when he clarified the issues to the agency, its officials told him he has no case to answer.

“Chief Ekaete was the Minister for Niger-Delta Affairs when the East-West Road dualisation project started.

“The road was initially meant to pass through the community somewhere around Eket, but Ekaete expressed his preference for the by-pass to pass behind the community to aid development and expansion of the community.

“The N1.9billion, which they said Orubebe diverted, was paid under Ekaete as the Minister of Niger-Delta. I did not make any payment. Ekaete paid the money to the construction company. I did not know when they paid the money.

“While some people agreed with the suggestion by Ekaete that the road should pass behind the community, others disagreed. I met the problem when I became the Minister of Niger-Delta.

“I wrote the then governor, Godswill Akpabio and we held meetings with the members of the community who disagreed on whether or not the by-pass should pass behind the Eket community or inside it.

“I only read the story about the charge in the newspapers. They have not served me. I am still waiting to be served.”

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