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DELTA: Obi Dragged to Court Over N20bn Loan Demand

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A suit has been filed at a High Court in Warri, Delta state challenging the State Acting Governor, Prince Sam Obi, Delta House of Assembly and the state Attorney General for seeking a N20 billion loan from financial institutions in Nigeria and subsequent approval  by the state legislature respectively.  

  Hearing on the matter has been adjourned to January 19, 2011 at High Court 1, Warri.    

  Delta Acting Governor, Rt. Hon. Sam Obi had approached the state House of Assembly for leeway to borrow the sum of N20 Billion to settle certain contractual debts which has been granted.  

  The suit, filed by a Warri based human rights activist, Mr. Omeniroro Ogedegbe is coming on the heels of myriad of agitations by Deltans over the loan request within the 90 days tenure of Acting Governor, Obi.  

  In a writ of summons dated December 14, 2010 with suit no W/421/2010, the claimant, Mr. Ogedegbe is demanding an order of court voiding the purported approval of the request by the House of Assembly saying that the acting governor within the few weeks he had been in office had not consumed any contractual benefit worth 20 billion naira.  

  In a statement of claim, the lawyer said, 'that about a month after the swearing in of the first defendant (acting governor) and less than 59 days to the expiration of his term as acting governor, he had by a letter dated the 7th day of December 2010 approached the 2nd defendant (House of Assembly) requesting for approval to borrow the sum of N20 billion to pay for contractual obligations for which the state government had benefitted.  

  'I do know that all contractual obligation of the state have been duly taken care of by the 2010 budget and the content of the said letter of request for sum of N20 billion did not disclose the said contractual obligation for which the state government had taken benefit and all attempt to secure a certified true copy has proved abortive.  

  'That the yearly interest rate on the said loan would be N2.6 billion and the first defendant intends that the loan be paid back within 24 months and that the loan intended is unwarranted as it can be well taken care of by the state 2011 budget if it was never provided for in the 2010 budget.  

  'That the loan requested if secured by the first defendant, it will not serve any meaningful purpose other than being the take home of the first defendant who claim the loan is meant to pay for services for which the government has benefited.'  

Unfortunately, the matter could not go on as the court did not sit on December, 20, 2010. The matter has been adjourned to January 19, 2011 to hold in High Court 1, Warri, Delta state.      

Queries trail Obi's N20 Billion loan request  
  Delta Acting Governor, Rt. Hon. Sam Obi had on Tuesday, December 7, 2010 sent a letter to the state House of Assembly seeking its approval to borrow the sum of N20 Billion.  

  According to the Acting Governor's letter 'The loan facility shall be sourced from reputable financial institutions in Nigeria and shall attract not more than 13 percent interest rate per annum (subject to mutually agreeable adjustments in line with CBN monetary policy rates) and 2 per cent fees. It shall be repaid within a twenty -four (24) months period with revenue from the State's monthly Federation Statutory Allocations (FAAC), with a three months moratorium on the principal sum.  

  'I wish to hereby request the approval of the House to borrow the sum of N20b only to enable the state government meet some of its very pressing contractual obligations for which the state government had taken benefit.'  

  The loan request N20 billion loan request, personally signed by the acting governor was unanimously received and adopted by the state legislature.  

  But Deltans have continued to challenge the loan request by Obi, whom they see as a collaborator of Uduaghan and ardent campaigner for the PDP candidate (Dr. Uduaghan) in the forthcoming re-run election in the state.  

  The people are of the view that part of the N20 Billion loan already collected by the state government is been diverted to influence both unsuspecting Deltans to vote against their will and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) during the re-run polls.  

  'Obi's request is unjust as he intends to place a debt burden on the shoulders of all Deltans when he leaves office.   We want to advice the acting governor not to borrow any money until we have a governor with four years mandate. If he does, he will face EFCC after his ninety days in office. He should concentrate on ensuring a hitch-free re run polls instead of supporting Uduaghan who is only one among other candidates.'  

  But in a sharp reaction to the approval, the Labour Party governorship candidate for the re-run election, Chief Abel Edijala, said 'this is ridiculous and laughable when you consider that the acting Governor has only two months to go. I am sure the money is meant to prosecute the re-run but labour shall resist them on the field.'  

  The national Coordinator of the Forum for Justice and Human Rights Defence, Mr Oghenejabor   Ikimi,   had also condemned the N20 billion loan,   describing it as reckless, devilish and the height of fiscal irresponsibility.  

  'We are oblivious of the fact that the said monies are for the urgent needs of the political class in the state and definitely not for the needs of the suffering and traumatized masses of Delta State'.  

  Deltans have also queried the Acting Governor's approval of the sum of N171.8m for the engineering design of Ayakoromo Bridge in Burutu Local Government Area of the state.  

  'If a government that claims to be people oriented spends a whooping N171.8 million for a mere paper design, imagine what amount it will cost to execute the physical project. I do not know where we are heading for in Delta state. '