Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA) on Sunday, urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission to probe the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; and the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola over an alleged swap of constituency project. The Rights group said the two anti-corruption agencies need not wait for formal petitions but should act based on the evidence adduced by the viral video.
The Rights group also expressed concern that President Muhammadu Buhari went ahead in early January this year to sign the Appropriation Bill 2023 sent to him into law even when he observed that the document was heavily padded. The Rights group said the President ought to have sent his observations to the anti graft agencies so those responsible for the criminal padding of the budget are arrested, prosecuted and sanctioned in line with the law.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement on the allegations against the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives and the Works minister regarding the Federsl College of Education Umunze Anambra state said if found to be guilty after investigation, the Speaker and the Minister should be arrested and prosecuted immediately by the anti-graft agencies.
According to reports, a news commentator in a viral video captured how that a project for inner roads for the Federal College of Education (Technical), Umunze located in the Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State, Nigeria was found to be executed in the Surulere I constituency of Lagos State.
In fact, the project board mounted at a site in Surulere listed the school as the client to a project in Gbajabiamila’s constituency; the project being the construction and reconstruction of inner access road in Surulere Olodi Okuta/Aralule Akinyele Street. The Speaker’s name was also boldly written as the project facilitator. The commentator who shared the video also showed graphic evidence to demonstrate that the said Federdl College of Education that is purportedly the client to the contractors constructing the roads in Surulere has no functional roads just asbthe federal educational facility in Anambra State is in a state of dysfunctionality and poor infrastructure.
HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “It is scandalous and heartbreaking that the current Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and Minister for Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola are being accused in this very viral video of allegedly diverting infrastructural development away from the the South-East and denying the South East its own quota of infrastructure.
“As shown in that video and as facts have shown that the Federal Government is currently renovating old state inherited federal housing in Surulere, Shitta housing estate, parks in Surulere. In fact, Surulere has the highest number of street lights per block than anywhere in Nigeria. Nearly every compound has a street light. All inner roads tarred with well-covered drainage systems. All the state and local government roads in Surulere and Lagos at large are being done under the Federal Government under Fashola as Minister of Works and Gbajabiamila as speaker. Surulere has best public schools and hospitals. Same as the President’s hometown in Daura, Katsina State.
“Sadly, however, many federal roads in the South-East have been abandoned by the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Top amongst these roads include the Okigwe/Arondizuogu/Akokwa/Amichi to Oba junction federal road.
“But in what sufficiently seems now like a deliberate ploy to destroy the South-East economically and socially as civilization often follows the road, these roads around the South-East were deliberately abandoned since 1999 till this day. HURIWA also tasked the EFCC and ICPC to investigate what a competent source within the federal ministry of works called ORPHAN ROADS PROJECTS which according to the Rights group are the conduit pipes said to be allegedly used by officials of the Federal government to line their pockets with filthy lucre off the back of the people of Nigeria who deserve quality and functional infrastructural development equitably distributed all across the federation.
“HURIWA learnt that the concept of Orphan roads now dot the South-East whilst the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, the Niger Delta Development Commission, and other government ministries, departments and agencies to do quick intervention of what they call palliative work (patch patch work) which often run into a couple of billions below the Federal Executive Council’s approval. “This includes but not limited to South-East top politicians. All the political parties are complicit in this and the Igbo politicians cannot deny awareness including those that have presided over the legislative arm of government.
The Rights group maintsined that the alleged swap of the inner roads project allocated for Federal College of Education (Technical), Umunze but executed in Surulere is so scandalous and the complicity of the terribly corrupt and wicked Igbo leaders is so loud.
“This cannot be allowed. Let the investigation begin immediately. That video clip by that commentator in the virl video simply opened a can of worms. Whoever is part of this wicked scandal must be called out and held accountable just as any other group of criminals that have undermined Ndigbo. The EFCC and the ICPC must get to work immediately.”
HURIWA has also condemned the Federal legislators from the South-East of Nigeria who stand by and do nothing or even conspire with those whose specialisation is said to be the active diversion of major infrastructural projects from the South East to their own zones far away from the South East even as the Rights group challenged the EFCC and the ICPC to arrest and prosecute South East legislators at the National Assembly who have conspired to deny the South East of its own share of the strategic national infrastructural development that other zones have been getting.
January 15, 2023
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
National Coordinator – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA.