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Imo Deputy Gov, Agbaso, Impeached

By The Citizen


After a hard fought battle and a sustained media campaign to remain in office, the embattled Imo State deputy governor, Mr. Jude Agbaso, was impeached Thursday by the state House of Assembly.

His removal from office occurred shortly after an Owerri High Court earlier in the day struck out his suit seeking to stop the impeachment process.

In his place, the state governor’s Chief of Staff, Mr. Eze Madumere, was cleared by the state assembly as the deputy governor-nominee and would be sworn in on Saturday.

Owing to a previous court order stopping the impeachment process, the state assembly, which had adjourned sitting till April 9, 2013, had to make a U-turn to commence the impeachment of the former deputy governor.

Agbaso's impeachment was said to have commenced at 5 pm yesterday immediately the state legislators got word of his non-appearance at the panel.

In arriving at the decision, 23 out of the 27 members of the House endorsed the motion to have him impeached, which was moved by the Majority Leader, Adaku Ihuoma, representing Ahiazu Mbaise Constituency and was seconded by Pat Ekeji, the Minority Leader representing Aboh Mbaise.

Subsequently, the Speaker, Hon. Benjamin Uwajumogu, ruled in favour of the impeachment of the former deputy governor.

The action of the assembly followed the decision of the seven-man probe panel inaugurated by the state chief judge, Justice Benjamin Njemanze, to continue with the investigation into allegations of financial misconduct levelled against the deputy governor.

Agbaso has been accused of demanding and receiving a bribe of N458 million from a firm, JPROS International Ltd., which was awarded a construction contract by the Imo State Government.

Following Agbaso's removal, Madumere was nominated and immediately cleared by the state assembly yesterday to take over as the new deputy governor of the state.

His nomination was contained in a letter by Governor Rochas Okorocha to the House in which he nominated his chief of staff as replacement for the former deputy governor.

However, in a twist of fate as the former deputy governor was being impeached in Owerri, the Imo State capital, new facts came to the fore yesterday showing that forensic auditors employed by the Agbaso family have traced the missing N458 million to accounts of the contractor, JPROS, in the United Arab Emirate, Dubai and Lebanon.

It was further gathered that one of Okorocha's special advisers and Chairman, Committee on Monitoring and Implementation of Road Projects, Mr. MacDonald Akano, was on the board of the company and also its second largest shareholder.

A search at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), however, showed that Akano was put on the board of the company at about the same time the execution and mobilisation for the contract in question took place.

The older brother to the former deputy governor, Mr. Martin Agbaso, who addressed the press Thursday at his office in Victoria Island, Lagos, said the family had taken the initiative to employ forensic experts in the case because of the need to clear its name from the deliberate attempt to tarnish it.

Already, Agbaso said the report of the forensic auditors had been forwarded to the appropriate quarters, including the police and the Department of State Security (DSS).

According to the findings as presented by Agbaso, 'Mr. Dina first paid the sum of N325 million into the Three Brother's Concept Ltd GTB Account.

'The money was used to raise the sum of US$1,930,00 (one million, nine hundred and thirty thousand dollars), which was subsequently transferred through Dubai on February 21, 2012 to Mr. Joseph Dina's account no: LB550014000023023 00179018010 with the Kaslik Branch of Blom Bank Sal in Lebanon.

'The purpose of the transfer as stated in the transfer document was 'to import construction equipment'.

'The second tranche of N133,000,000 (one million and thirty-three million naira) was similarly paid into the IHSAN BDG Ltd's account no: 1015334698 with UBA by Mr. Dina.

'Again, the money was used to raise US$800,000 (eight hundred thousand dollars) and transferred to Mr. Dina's Account no: AE60200000036374395130 with HSBC Middle East Ltd at Dubai Internet City, Sheik Zayed Rd, Dubai.
'So while Mr. Dina was accusing the (former) Deputy Governor of Imo State, Mr. Jude Agbaso, of demanding and receiving a bribe of N458 million, the said money had been converted by Mr. Dina himself and his associates and paid into Mr. Dina's foreign accounts in Lebanon and Dubai.'

Agbaso said apart from establishing the beneficiary of the bribery, it was also imperative to identify the owners of the companies.

'The Three Brother's Concept Ltd runs a Bureau De Change and its directors are Abdulahi Lawal, Ahmadu Yanusa, Karimu Usman, Umar Abubakar and Yakubu Abdulahi. Its current shareholders are Abdulahi Lawal, Umar Abubakar and Yakubu Abdulahi. Jude Agbaso, the (former) deputy governor of Imo State, is not one of them.

'The directors of Ishan Bureau De Change are Alhaji Inuwa Sabo, Abdulahi Tasiu Maikano, Haruna Saidu and Mallam Sule. The five gentlemen are also the shareholders. Again, Jude Agbaso, the (former) deputy governor of Imo State is not one of them.

'The directors who are also the only shareholders of JPROS Nigeria Ltd, the company whose MD is falsely accusing the (former) deputy governor of bribery are Joseph Dina, Aline Dina, Jean Samir Aoun and Mr. MacDonald Akano, the Special Adviser to Governor Rochas Okorocha and the Chairman of the Committee on Monitoring and Implementation of Road Projects in Imo State.

'Isn't it fascinating to discover that a director and major shareholder; indeed, the second highest shareholder in the company involved in this ugly defamation of character and wicked attempt to destroy the good name and image of the (former) deputy governor, is a member of Governor Okorocha's inner circle.

'Isn't it even more fascinating that to know that Akano stood quietly and loyally beside Mr. Dina as he blackmailed and slandered the (former) deputy governor before the members of the state House of Assembly, knowing well that his company, JPROS, was the guilty party in the matter,' he explained.

Agbaso, who presented copies of his younger brother's call log obtained from MTN, said no contact was established between his brother and the contractor during the period in question and reiterated that the former deputy governor's travail was a deliberate attempt to emasculate him politically by first rubbishing the family name.

He, however, maintained that Nigeria has reached a point where those who relish in brazen breach of others' rights must realise that it is no longer business as usual.

'You can't do something despicable and think it will be business as usual. We've left that era of satanic behaviour.

'Governor Okorocha has the power as the governor of Imo State to do whatever he likes and as he deems fit. But he does not have the power to tarnish the image of my family and what is uppermost now is to clear my family name,' he said. Thisday