N125m Fraud Rocks Zik’s Mausoleum
By Adimike George
About N125 million fraud has been uncovered in the award of contracts for the renovation of Nigeria’s former President, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. This is coming just as part of the perimeter fence of the mausoleum collapsed.
The eldest son of Zik, as the former nationalist is widely known, Mr. Chukwuma Azikiwe alleged that officials of the Federal Ministry of Works looted the money marked for the completion of the abandoned mausoleum in Onitsha, Anambra State.
Addressing journalists, he disclosed that since the death of his father, a lot of fraud has been perfected in his name by fraudulent ministry officials.
According to Azikiwe, who has replaced his father as the Owelle of Onitsha, the federal government efforts to rebuild and complete his father’s mausoleum had always suffered set back as a result of sabotage and scam from the ministry of works.
He alleged that the major setback in the completion of the project which was started since the death of his father in 1996 was uncovered when the former Minister of Works, Dr. Nduesse Essien discovered that some ministry staff awarded the reconstruction of the compound to the tune of N100 million without the knowledge of the minister.
Zik’s son said that successive governments in the country had tried to complete the project but decried that a lot of people have cashed in on the opportunity to loot the country dry.
“Apart from the efforts (former president Olusegun) Obasanjo made to truncate the completion of my father’s mausoleum, there are other setbacks being witnessed in the projects. The mismanagement of electricity, water and other funds had also been the major problem we have. But these people allegedly had N25 million for water project without breaking down the effective cost.”
He disclosed that the contract for drilling ordinary borehole in the compound was allegedly awarded to a Lebanese company, Al-amir, which he said came to site without any drilling machine but relied on labour for the project.
He also disclosed that the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua approved N250 million for the completion of the project but this was later slashed and yet remain unreleased.
According to him, “Yar’Adua approved N250 million and I think they said it was slashed maybe because of austerity measures but I am asking what of the remaining money. We don’t need some of the projects they are doing like the giant generator, it has been lying there outside thinly covered”
He also disclosed that the only transformer in the compound was vandalized by suspected hoodlums about three weeks ago and called on the federal government to intensify efforts to facilitate the completion of the projects.
When the Nation visited the Inosi Onira retreat centre where Zik was laid to rest, part of the fence adjoining the All Hallows Seminary Onitsha has collapsed leaving the compound unprotected.
Azikiwe said the fence collapsed as a result of the ongoing renovation of the Onitsha-Enugu Express way. He decried the level of neglect by the federal government on the final resting place for the Great Zik, lamenting that despite repeated promises by successive governments the place has been neglected for too long.
Source: The Nation, 16th October 2011.