Immediate past Governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, has been hauled up before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the alleged misappropriation of 13% derivation fund he received from the Federal Government while in office.
The Oil Producing Areas Association of Nigeria (OPAAN) and six others alleged that Okowa had squandered the money and failed to spend on it projects in the oil-producing areas for which the funds were meant.
“We will want the EFCC to bring all those concerned to book in other to avoid serious crisis in the Niger Delta which may affect the production of oil,’’ the leaders demanded in a statement given to Persecondnews.
The statement was signed by Chief Obiuwevbi Ominimini [National Chairman of Oil Producing Areas Association of Nigeria (OPAAN); Prince Markpobi Okareme [Pioneer National Secretary of Traditional Ruler of Oil Minerals Producing Communities of Nigeria (TROMPCON) and Vice Chairman PANDEF Delta State); Sir Matthew Itsekure (Itsekiri Ethnic Nationality; Comrade Chief Sheriff Mulade (Ijaw Ethnic Nationality); Chief Etenero John (Member Isoko Ethnic Nationality) and Hon. Mark Ikpuri (Urhobo Ethnic Nationality) for and on behalf of the Oil Producing Communities in Delta State.
They leaders said: “Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, has been labouring in the past few days to justify his expenditure of the 13% derivation accrued to DESOPADEC in his tenure in office. The more he tried the more he exposed himself because Governor Ifeanyi Okowa lies without any conscience.
“Pa Clark did not accuse Governor Okowa of not doing anything with the monies he received from FAAC, Ecological fund, IGR, Paris Club refunds, Grants and other funds during his tenure in office. He was asked to account for how he spent/squandered the 13% derivation fund due to DESOPADEC during his tenure in office.
“For Okowa and his cohorts to insinuate that Pa Clark is being used by people to attack him is ridiculous, insulting to say the least. Okowa is not used to criticism. For 8 years, he was surrounded by praise singers under his payroll with state resources.
“He was like an emperor who conquered the whole of Delta state. But we the people of the oil producing communities of Delta state are happy that he was not able to conquer Pa Clark, the Iroko of the Niger Delta and Nigeria who the almighty God has graciously delayed his boarding pass because he still has battles like this to fight to liberate the people from exploitation and oppression by those in authority.
“The question is did Okowa give to DESOPADEC what is due to it according to the state law establishing DESOPADEC as amended by Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa? He made sure he inaugurated the new DESOPADEC board 3 days before he left office.
“That means there is something about DESOPADEC to Okowa; was he trying to put his men there to protect him?’’
Persecondnews recalls that a former Minister of Information and Ijaw leader, nonagenarian Chief Edwin Clark had in May written a letter to Okowa to refund his alleged illegal and unlawful diversion of ₦1,07 trillion 13 percent derivation fund for oil producing communities in Delta from 2015 to 2022.
Clark said the amount paid by the Federal Government as 13% derivation fund to oil producing states was shrouded in secrecy which made some governors not to announce it and diverted it.
The oil producing communities accused Okowa, the Vice-Presidential candidate to Atiku Abubakar in the February 25 poll of abandoning the Oil Producing Communities for which the 13% was made and for which the 13% was provided for in the 1999 constitution.
“We are fully in support of Chief E.K. Clark’s petition to the EFCC and to show our support, representatives of the various Oil Producing Communities; the Itsekiris, Ijaws, Isokos, Ndokwas and Urhobo ethnic nationalities of the Oil Producing Areas led a protest to the headquarters of EFCC on Thursday June 22nd 2023, where we handed over a petition to EFCC which is widely reported by the media and part of the petition is reproduced hereunder.
“It is very disheartening and callous to note that despite the copious and unambiguous provisions of Section 162 (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 13 (1) of the DESOPADEC Law of 2006 (as amended), 2007, 2015 and 2018 respectively, Okowa has deliberately and flagrantly abused, violated and breached the above provisions of the law and had continued to misappropriate the said funds for his personal use at the expense of the suffering people of the Oil and Gas Producing Communities in Delta State.
“It is very nauseating that despite the stupendous billions of naira being paid to the Delta State Government from the 13 per cent oil derivation fund from the Federation Account, the Oil Producing Areas/Communities continue to wallow in abject poverty with no commensurate social amenities and infrastructures in place.
“He made sure he inaugurated the new DESOPADEC board 3 days before he left office. That means there is something about DESOPADEC to Okowa; was he trying to put his men there to protect him?
“All responsible and patriotic Deltans is definitely angry with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for misappropriating the 13% fund as; He is unable to account for the 50% that is not allocated to the Oil Producing Communities by the DESOPADEC Law.
“He does not include it in any budget or supplementary budget as extra fund from the Federal Government coming from the 13% derivation payment, perhaps he treats it as part of his security vote for which he is not accountable to anybody; let Okowa say so.
“The 50% which must be paid as stated in section 13 of the DESOPADEC Law is also kept by him where he dishes out to DESOPADEC in instalments and he recently, shamelessly confessed through his former Commissioner of Information, Charles Aniagwu on Arise TV interview, who said that; “in the course of our administration we have given to DESOPADEC over ₦208 billion in 8 years”.
“And again when asked what did the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa spend the remaining part of the 13% amounting to ₦1.7 trillion and he could only sighted the roads the Government had constructed with the money and most of these roads he mentioned were constructed in Governor Okowa’s zone; Delta North Senatorial zone, particularly in his twin villages of Owa-Oyibo and Owa-Alero where some of the roads where tarred to the bush for future development.
“The annual budget of Delta State Government is made up of Monthly allocation from the Federal Government, Ecological fund and internal revenue which he put at ₦79 billion. These revenues are received by the Delta State Government and are contained in both the annual and supplementary budget of the State.
“There is nowhere in the various Delta State Government budget where the remaining 50% of the 13% derivation fund paid by the Federal Government is spent by the Governor as part of his security fund because he is not accountable to anyone including the Delta State House of Assembly or are not even contained in the annual audit report amounting to ₦538,725,143,276.17 (five hundred and thirty eight billion, seven hundred and twenty five million, one hundred and forty three thousand, two hundred and seventy six naira seventeen kobo).
“The 50% which must be paid in block to DESOPADEC in accordance to section 13 of the DESOPADEC Law; he only paid over ₦208 billion for the period of 8 years, leaving a balance of about ₦330 billion. We demand from Governor Okowa an account of how he spent the remaining 50% which was not given to DESOPADEC amounting to ₦538,725,143,276.17 (five hundred and thirty eight billion, seven hundred and twenty five million, one hundred and forty three thousand, two hundred and seventy six naira seventeen kobo) and the balance of the 50% meant for DESOPADEC amounting to about ₦330 billion and the sum total of about ₦ 869,450,286,552. 08.
“It should be noted that some of us from the oil producing areas of Delta State have been agitating for some years how the Governors of Delta State squandered or embezzled the 13% derivation funds without any benefit/development accruing to the oil producing communities to the extent that we have sued the Governors; Dr Uduaghan and Dr. Okowa to court asking them to account for the 13% derivation fund meant for the development of the Oil Producing Communities,’’ the statement said.
“And in fact, some of us have been members of DESOPADEC as Commissioners representing our Oil Producing Communities and therefore we are fully aware of the amount of money received by DESOPADEC out of the 13% derivation funds paid to Delta State Government.
“To Okowa, he seems to have developed the Oil Producing Areas of Delta State and listed a number of projects in each Oil Producing Areas. He claimed that he established three new Universities in Delta State which is a record according to him in Nigeria.
“The three Universities established by Okowa are; 1. Denis Osadebe University 2. Delta State University, Ozoro 3. University of Delta, Agbor .The University of Delta, Agbor is an upgrade of the former College of Education, Agbor. So, the Agbor people were happy that a University is coming to their town, and whereas, Agbor is in Ika South.
“When the University was established, the people thought all the Faculties were in Agbor, and that was why they were jubilating. As a shocker to them, four Faculties were taken to Owa in Ika North-East, the Local Government Area and Kingdom of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa,’’ it added.