Imo State Government uncovers ‘N20 billion Zigreat Scandal’ in Okorocha’s regime

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Rochas Okorocha, former governor of Imo state, awarded 12 contracts worth N20 billion to Zigreat International Company Limited between November 15, 2013, and November 3, 2017,according to reports.

Documents obtained by TheCable showed that the contracts were awarded to this company in violation of the public procurement act.

TheCable understands that in 2010, the administration of Ikedi Ohakim, a former governor, modelled the procurement act of the state after that of the federal government.

The act says to bid for contracts, a company needs to present three years tax clearance, audited accounts, evidence of work experience as the main contractor executing or having executed a minimum of four (4) projects of similar complexity, evidence of possession of relevant machinery and equipment and scanned copies of certificates of technical/professional staff of the company.

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But Zigreat International Company Limited, which had no functional website as of the time this report was filed, got its first contract from Okorocha’s government three months after it registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). The former government in Imo had awarded a N700 million contract to it for the construction of a tower.

All the contracts awarded by Okorocha’s government were signed by Paschal Obi, then principal secretary to the governor. Obi is now the member representing Ideato north and Ideato south in the house of representatives.

The first contract, construction of “Akachi”, an Igbo term which translates as “The Hand of God”, in Owerri, the state capital, was awarded for N700 million. In a letter dated November 15, 2013, his administration told Zigreat that 25 percent of N700 million would be made available as mobilisation fee.

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“I am directed to refer to your quotation of the above contract and to convey His Excellency’s approval that your company Zigreat Intl. Coy. Ltd. undertakes the contract for the Construction of Akachi (Hand of God) at a total contract sum of #700,000,000.00 (Seven Hundred Million Naira) Only,” the letter read.

“In line with Government Policy on contracts, you are requested to indicate acceptance in writing without delay. You should report to the Principal Secretary to the Governor, Government House, Owerri for details and signing of Contract Agreement, please.”

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The ex-governor also approved N683 million for the construction of Community Health Hospital in Ogboko, his hometown in Ideato local government area. Till date, the hospital is in a derelict state.

Also awarded was over N689 million contract for the office blocks of the ministry of happiness headed by Ogechi Ololo, Okorocha’s sister. N5.9 billion was awarded for the construction of police headquarters, phase 1, Owerri and N4.3 billion for the construction of police headquarters, phase 2, Owerri.

Below are the details of other contracts awarded between 2016 and 2017:

Construction of Imo State University of Agriculture and Environment in Aboh/Ngokpala, N3.7 billion.
Reconstruction of sub-treasury building for conversion to government house clinic, N210 million.
Construction of ministry of Niger Delta office blocks, N611 million.
Construction of ministry of agriculture office blocks, N611 million.
Construction of ministry of tourism office blocks, N630 million.
Construction of IMSU campus at Onuimo, N2.79 billion.
Construction of ministry of sport office blocks, N690 million.

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Some of the contracts were not completed before the end of the former governor’s tenure in 2019.

Asked to react to the manner that the contracts were awarded, Sam Onwuemedo, spokesman of the former governor, said the most important thing was that the contracts were executed.

He said with over 1000 projects, Okorocha, whom he described as a hero, should be honoured.

“Okorocha has more than 1000 projects in the state, even if trillions of naira were spent on those project, that’s justifiable because the man has worked. The most important thing is whether the contracts were executed or not, if you are a contractor and I know you can give me what I want without running away with my money, I will give you the contract,” he said.

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“The issue should be was the job done? If the job was done, then it’s left for those who are financial experts to know whether the price budgeted for it was commensurate with what was delivered. You give a job to person that will perform or a company that is not registered. If a company is registered and bid for a job and the job is given, what’s criminal about it?”

Asked if Zigreat International Company Limited has any affiliation with Okorocha, the media aide said: “I’m not in a position to answer that.”

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Okorocha, the incumbent senator representing Imo west, is currently under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Last week, the anti-graft agency seized some properties allegedly traced to him in Imo. They include schools, a hotel, hospital, estate, supermarket and residential buildings.

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