By NBF News
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The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) has nabbed the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Dr Parker Sampson and several top government functionaries in the state over a N5 billion ($37.2 million) contract scam.

The commission also arrested some contractors, and officials of three banks based in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital as well as the accountant general of the state on alleged involvement in the scam. They are being questioned over their alleged complicity in the deal.

The government officials already in ICPC net include a permanent secretary in the ministry of health, the director of accounts and the director of medical services in the ministry, all said to have made useful statements in support of allegations levelled against the commissioner.

According to ICPC, arrest of the suspects was necessitated by the roles each of them allegedly played in the diversion of the sum of N5 billion earmarked by the state government for construction of Justice Karibi Whyte Memorial Hospital located at Omagwa, Rivers State. The construction was to be jointly handled by a foreign contractor Clinotech International Ova.

It said the health commissioner allegedly collaborated with the main contractor, Dr. Harrison Ofiyal, managing director, Clinotech International Ova, which had been engaged by the government of Rivers State for the construction of the hospital. It said preliminary investigations conducted by its operatives had shown that the amount claimed to have been spent on the hospital project was nothing to compare with the structure on the ground, thus indicating that those connected with the project allegedly misappropriated a large chunk of the money earmarked.

The Justice Karibi Whyte Memorial Hospital, according to plan by the Rivers State Government, was meant to be constructed by Public Private Partnership arrangement. The ICPC said the officials of three banks so far arrested were alleged to have aided the diversion of the fund earmarked for the project such that 60 per cent of the N5 billion set aside for construction could not be accounted for.

The Resident Consultant to ICPC on Media, Mr. Folu Olamiti, said the anti-graft commission swung into action on account of petitions filed by concerned citizens from Rivers State on the contract and eventually uncovered the scam.

He said investigations into the contract scam was yet to conclude as he indicated that more arrest of suspected culprits would be made immediately a signal to that effect emerge.