… No, we collected N300,000; Works Ministry is aware – Community Heads
… As they hid the buyer’s identity
… We don’t have Engr. Ekanem in our Ministry, we are not aware of such deal – Works Commissioner
By Saviour Ekpe
An unidentified politician of the old testament whose identity and phone number was hid to the media by the village Head of Mbiabong Idire in Ibiono Ibom local government area whose name could not be ascertained but popularly known as Obong Idire moves round the state to illegally purchase iron rods of old bridges in connivance with one Engineer Ekanem claimed to be from the State Ministry of Works.
Sources from the Community where iron rod from the deserted bridge were bought and dismantled told Century Newsfront that a top politician from Ibesikpo Asutan (whose identity our source does not know) paid the 11 Village Heads the sum of N5Million Naira through the village Head of Mbiabong Idire in Ibiono Ibom local government area Obong Idire, an Ex-policeman who masterminded the said deal.
When contacted, the Group head of the 11 community, Chief David Archibong who is the village head of Ikpa Ikot Uboh said that it was Obong Idire the village head of Mbiabong Idire who brought the man but denied collecting N5Million Naira, added that authority came from Ministry of Works, “when the village head of Idire came with the proposal of selling the iron with authority from the Ministry of Works, we all agreed to it. We have not seen such amount of money you mentioned, we only received and shared the sum of three hundred thousand naira among the 11 villages, though we have head from some quarters that the money is more than that”, Chief Archibong said.
When Century Newsfront contacted the village Head of Mbiabong Idire, the Obong Idire, who acted the part of a middle man between the unidentified politician and the 11 Villages that make up the community also denied receiving N5Million Naira but affirmed the receipt of three hundred thousand Naira from the unidentified man for the community. Obong Idire in response said, “Some of the stories may be true, some are very far from the truth. Community matters as it is, is not an issue of only one village head, there is no way one village head could sit down and negotiate. Village heads cannot discuss about this matter without the presence of the youth leaders as well as political leaders and in this matter, it went that circle. When the man approached me and mentioned sites that he has acquired the iron, I told him, no we don’t want problem with the government so that tomorrow, no want will accuse the community for disposing of government property, he said that he has contact with an engineer in the Ministry of Works, not the Commissioner. He put a call across to the engineer in the Ministry and I told the man that this is our situation to advise us on what to do he said that that bridge, government has nothing to do with it again since the new one was constructed and that the bridge now is the property of the community that if the community wishes to dispose of the iron, they are free to do so but warned that the money accrued from it should not enter into one man’s pocket but should be used for the development of the community, commissioner was not in this picture but he came in when we insisted to see the commissioner. We booked an audience with the Commissioner but to no avail. The issue of N5Million, we have not seen even a Million in that transaction. Whoever says that we collected N5Million is a liar. The man gave us N300,000 only”.
When asked of the man’s name he declined and also refused to give his phone number, “I don’t have his popular name but is a popular name in the state buy of the Old Testament. What actually made us to accept the transaction started in 2015, you know there was a lot of violence then, so after the election, we found two corpses tied to the bridge iron. We wrote to the Commissioner, Ministry of Works. That was the main reason why we decided to sell off the iron for fear of similar re-occurrence in the 2019 elections”.
In his reaction, the Honorable Commissioner for Works, Akparawa Ephraim Inyang-eyen said that the Works Ministry does not have anyone by name, Engineer Ekanem. He wondered why people should take laws into their hands by usurping authority over public utility through fraudulent means, “we don’t have anyone by name Engr. Ekanem in this Ministry. We have not carried out such transaction nor give anybody authority to do so. Government has legitimate means of disposing public property. We don’t give an individual such order, whenever government wants to dispose of anything, it is always published for many people to bid for it”, the Commissioner explained. Watch out for next week for more details on this matter.
Similar transaction is currently going on in Oku Iboku in Itu local government where machines and other equipments belonging to the defunct Nigeria Newsprint Manufacturing Company is being vandalized by members of the community. Century Newsfront will soon expose culprits.