Aggrieved contractors on Tuesday stormed the Imo State government house, Owerri, blocking the entrance gates to demand payment for contracts they carried out for the State Universal Education Board (IMSUBEB).
In spite of the early morning rains, the aggrieved contractors, numbering over hundred, sang solidarity songs and bearing placards with such inscriptions as, “IMSUBEB save our souls and pay us”; “Imo government save our properties from our creditors”; “Hope, interests on loans are piling, save our souls”; “UBEC from Abuja has sent the money, please pay us”, amongst other things.
They disclosed that some of their properties had been taken over by their creditors in the course of pursuing the money owed them by the state government, which ran into several millions of naira.
According to them, the bank loans they obtained to execute the various contracts had accumulated, thereby causing them problems. They added that the banks were after them already.
This, they disclosed, was happening in spite of the fact that the federal government through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) has released the money to the state government.
According to the chairman of the Registered IMSUBEB Contractors, Williams Ejiakor, the protest was meant for them to take their fate in their hands and get the government to hear them and attend to their needs.
He said, “We are registered contractors with IMSUBEB. We are here to ask the board to pay us for the jobs we did which payments had been released by the Federal Government but withheld by Governor Hope Uzodinma.
“Jobs for the 2016/2017 Revised Action Plan were awarded to us under the Emeka Ihedioha era. We went into field immediately even without mobilization and most of us had even delivered up to 100%. Ihedioha was at the verge of paying us when he was unfortunately removed by the court.
“Our money has since then been domiciled at Zenith Bank with the governor refusing to release them to us. Most of our members have huge debts currently hanging over their necks while banks are taking over our properties.
“We have explored all avenues to reach out to the governor. We have gone through Fr. Mbaka, Archbishop Anthony Obinna, his Chief of Staff, etc, yet he has refused to order the release of our money.
“Now, he has gone ahead to open tender for awards of fresh contracts to his cronies with our money. Even UBEC has asked him to pay us but why he has refused to pay us our money already released by the Federal Government is what we do not know. So we are here to peacefully demand from him our payments,” Ejiakor explained.