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18.01.2010 Nigeria

Alleged N4.8million Scam Rocks Delta House

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Asaba Jan 17, (THEWILL) - All does not seem well at the Delta State House of Assembly as a N4.8million fraud allegedly perpetuated by some officials of the legislative arm of government has thrown the spotlight on the Assembly.

The money which was allocated to the former political aides of the former Speaker of the House was alleged to been misappropriated by the by the former Speaker of the House, Mr. Frank Enekorogha, Clerk of the house, Mr. Raymond Yavbire, and one Mr. David Ebiri, an accountant attached to the House.

The former political aides to the former speaker alleged that the N4.8million was money released by the former governor of the state, Chief James Ibori to offset their furniture and other allowances due them.

In a petition signed by the former legal aide to the former speaker, Barrister Abere Funbo Brideba for himself and on behalf of two other aides, Barrister Sam Ikporukpo Legal Assistant; and Senior Special Assistant, Mr. Yeibo.A. Ebi, which was addressed to the Speaker of the House, Mr. Okonta and the state's Attorney General, they said:

“In order to fraudulently, corruptly and arrogantly appropriate same to themselves, the trio of Hon. Frank Enekorogha, Mr. Raymond Yavbire, Clerk of the House and Mr. David Ebiri, Accountant, (DTHA) have been playing double standard with the payment of our allowances of furniture and twenty-eight days hotel accommodation which were considered, approved and released by the erstwhile governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori since May, 2007.”

The petition which copied the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Frank Enekorogha, Clerk of the House, all principal officers, (DTHA), Commissioner of Police, Director, SSS, Chairman NBA, Asaba branch and Chief EK Clark said in spite of the several attempts made to resolve the alleged fraud, the trio have used intimidation and oppression as tools to frustrate the process.

“It is our plea that you should use your good offices to order for the urgent payment of the said money due to us.

“Some of us are obviously being compelled to seek redress legally to resolve the unnecessary logjam, more so our persuasive approach seems to have failed. This is one of the greatest display of injustice and raw power by people who feel they are above the law and can always get away with whatever action they take, however illegal.”

According to the petitioners who described the issue as unfortunate saying that the respondents seem to have “Deliberately in a contemptuous manner rejected and refused this seemingly forward approach adopted by your humble self, as the Chief Law Officer of the state. They still believe in the wrong aphorism that might is always right” querying that how else would one absolve the respondents of civil and criminal culpability when legitimate allowances duly forwarded, approved and released by an Executive Governor have been kept in private accounts illegally and the beneficiaries denied.

“This is about twenty months. It is worthy to note that the injustice remained the cause of the crisis in the Niger Delta and some of our politicians and their corrupt and incompetent collaborating public servants seem unprepared to reverse the trend of things”.

The petition also alleged that “The money has been in the private coffers of the Accountant and the Clerk of the Assembly yielding unconscionable interest for them. The respondents are merely buying time to see if they would break our spirit and manipulate the authorities to appropriate same to themselves. They have been heard boasting that they have the money and connection to kill the matter. That this is not the first time matters of this kind has happened,” they alleged.

They averred that this was why the respondents have refused to bulge despite the steps so far taken personally by the Attorney-General of the state to resolve the matter via the alternative dispute resolution stressing that the act of the three Assembly officers are a direct affront and insult to the rights of the petitioners, the rule of law and the judicial institution in general.

THEWILL has obtained a letter signed by the then Speaker, Mr. Enekorogha and addressed to the then Governor of the state, Chief James Ibori, entitled “Payment of Furniture allowances to Political Officer Holders in the Office of the Hon. Speaker in the Delta State House of Assembly” in the letter, Enekorogha told Chief Ibori as follows:

“I Wish to humble intimate His Excellency that political support staff have been appointed in the office of the Hon. Speaker in line with standing approved positions in relation to those offices and the appointees have resumed duties since 1st November, 2006 and carrying out their duties creditably.

“Your Excellency may wish also to be reminded that the aforementioned political office holders are entitled to 300% of annual basic salaries as furniture allowance in view of the monetization policy. In view of the foregoing, His Excellency is graciously requested to consider the payment of furniture allowance to the under listed political office holders in the Delta State House of Assembly. Mr. Yeibo A. Ebi, Senior Special Assistant (Annual Basic Salary N480, 000, 00), Barrister Sam. Ikporukpo, Legal Assistant (Annual Basic Salary N430, 000, 00), Barrister A.F. Brideba, Legal Aide (Annual Basic Salary N421, 000, 00) total N4, 008, 000.00”.

“In accordance with the aforementioned subject matter, His Excellency is graciously requested to note that the Hon. Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly have appointed these political support staff in accordance with His Excellency's approval.

“That the political support staffs are entitled to 300% of their respective individual annual basic salary as furniture allowance. The sum of N4, 008,000.00 (Four Million and Eight Thousand Naira) only be paid to the aforementioned political appointees as furniture allowance in line with the monetization policy. The payment of sum of N4, 008,000.00 (Four Million and Eight Thousand Naira) only be paid to the Clerk of the Delta State House of Assembly for the aforementioned political appointees in the Office of the Hon. Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly,” the letter stressed.

THEWILL also obtained another letter dated 28, June, 2006, with reference number DTHA/C/5/T1/60, entitled “Offer of Appointment “signed by the Clerk of the House, Mr. Raymond Yavbieri and addressed to Barrister. A.F. Brideba, which stated:

“I wish to inform you that approval has been granted for your appointment as Legal Aide to Hon. (Engr.) F.P. Enekorogha, Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, with effect from 25th May, 2006. You will be placed on salary grade level 15 step 8. You are entitled to all the fringe benefits and allowances associated with the position. Your duties include the normal schedule of the office, and other duties that may be assigned to you from time to time, However, your appointment, if accepted, is strictly tied to the tenure and pleasure of Hon. Speaker (Engr.) F.P. Enekorogha.”

But upon all these the former political aides have not gotten a dime from the N4.8million which they alleged has since been approved and released to the three Assembly officers by the former governor.

When contacted the Clerk of the House, Mr. Raymond Yavbieri denied the knowledge of the money been kept in an interest-yielding private account. "We don't know whether money was kept in any private accounts" adding that the only thing they knew is that the aides have issues with their boss, the former speaker, Mr. Enekorogha.

While saying that the former Speaker had vowed that no matter who comes begging him, he would not forgive the aides. The Clerk disclosed that:

"They took him (Mr. Enekorogha) to court, even to the State Police Command so the man is very angry with them and so he has instructed that no one gets anything from that money. If the man says tomorrow he has forgiven them, we will go and pay them. The money has since been paid into the Assembly coffers a year ago".

The clerk who expressed disappointment over the manner the aides were dragging his name and the Accountant into the issue because they are signatories to the account warned the aides for their own good to desist as he will personally take action against them.

"We have told them to look beyond us because we are messengers. We don't have the right to seize their money, why are they putting the cat before the horse. Has their boss forgiven them and ordered that the money be paid to them and it was not paid. They should stop beating around the bush, let them go to their boss who they have punished so much for forgiveness" adding that the former speaker has vowed that even though the former aides drag him to the highest court the money will not be given to them.

On his part, the Accountant, Mr. David Ebiri told THEWILL in a chat that: "What do you want me to do, I don't have any reactions, its not a new thing, the issue has been in the police station, everybody, the House, Commissioner of Justice are all aware so it is not a new issue. So I am not in position to grant press interview, call the speaker,” he said.

Also reacting in a telephone call, the former Speaker, Mr. Enekorogha who is also the current member representing Burutu 1 constituency in the house, told THEWILL that: "I am not in town now, when I return in one week time I will call you." He is yet to return our call.

See attachment for documents.

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