By Soni Daniel
Abuja—The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC,Monday, arrested and detained former Eboyi State Commissioner for Public Utilities, Mr. Benjamin Ogbonnaya Okah, for collecting N83 million bribe from an American firm.
The U.S-based firm, Califo Group, had been awarded the contract for the establishment of a $12 million (N4 billion) power plant in the state, which has since been abandoned after the payment of $10.8 million mobilisation fee.
EFCC, which confirmed the arrest of Mr. Okah, described his action as abuse of office, an offence punishable under the commission’s ACT, saying the former commissioner is to be charged to court.
After committing the offence and making away with the gratification, the Office of the Attorney General of Ebonyi State promptly petitioned the EFCC and asked the anti-graft agency to investigate the scam, which has deprived the state of uninterrupted power supply despite the huge sum already committed into the power project.
EFCC said last night that the investigations had also revealed that the two contact addresses of the said U.S company in Abuja and Abakiliki were fictitious, casting doubts on whether the job was actually awarded to any foreign firm or Okah’s firm.
Findings, however, showed that the huge amount was wired to the ‘company’s account’ in the United Bank for Africa UBA and Heritage Bank.
“Investigations has so far revealed that both the Abuja and Ebonyi state addresses claimed by the said company are fictitious, as the EFCC has contacted the Ministry of Works and Power for an on the spot assessment and evaluation.
“It was during the cause of investigation that it was discovered that the former commissioner, Engineer Benjamin Ogbonnaya Okah collected gratification from the company in the sum of N83 million between July 30, 2012 and December 30, 2014, through his personal companies-Global Victory Allied Company and Mahco Mega Nigeria Limited. He is the Managing Director and sole signatory to both accounts,” the EFCC said Monday night.