Report reaching has it that a multimillion naira contract scam is allegedly being carried out by an ally of Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo state.

The ally of the governor, Alex Mbata, who is at the centre of the scam is alleged to have lodged the sum of N800 million released for capital projects at the Imo state University, (IMSU) Owerri in a fixed bank account so as to use the profit for personal purposes. Contractors who are handling various infrastructural projects in IMSU are now being owed millions of naira after the funds meant to pay them were diverted for interest purposes.

The projects under the TETFund 2011/2012/2013 consolidated projects were awarded to contractors for the construction of various buildings at IMSU’s Owerri Campus after advertisement in at least two national newspapers were made.

But some of the contracts which were supposed to be completed last year are still ongoing even after TETFund released funds for payment to contractors handling various infrastructural projects in the university. Sources who spoke to said several projects in IMSU have been abandoned because money is not being advanced to the contractors as at when due based on the instruction of the pro-chancellor and chairman of council, Alex Mbata, who is the right hand man of the Imo state governor. Speaking under the condition of anonymity, one of the contractors alleged that Mbata is covering his tracks by instructing the bank not to document the fixed deposit transaction. So in order to mask the alleged fixing racket, the bank pays MOKOROCHAbata through back-hand cash payment that is not documented, the contractor said. When asked why the acting vice chancellor, IMSU, Prof. (Mrs.) Victoria Adaobi has not intervened to save the situation, the source said the VC has failed to act even after the affected contractors sent the school authorities a petition addressed to her office.

The source also disclosed that a one-time chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and immediate VC of IMSU, Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie was placed on suspension by Governor Rochas Okorocha because the pro-chancellor realized that with Awuzie on the saddle, he would be unable to perpetuate the fraud. According to him, Awuzie said before he was unjustly suspended he “left about N2.4billion in the TETFund account and N219million in the Needs Assessment account and I know that the contractors are being owed N500million. My consistent cry that they should be paid despite the refusal of the ‘powers-that-be’ that their monies be withheld got me into trouble.” However, the school authority has dismissed allegations that funds released by TETFund have been diverted to a fixed deposit account.

The public relations officer of the institution, Ralph Njoku-Obi in a telephone chat with our corespondent said there was also no truth in the report that all contractors working on projects in IMSU had stopped working. He said work was still ongoing on the senate building, the news library and other projects, adding that those contractors who had stopped work probably needed to sort out some grey areas. As regard the grey areas which needed to be sorted out, the spokesperson said since was not a contractor, he could not go into details. On the allegations of high handedness and corruption leveled against the pro-chancellor and chairman of council, Alex Mbata, Njoku-Obi said the allegations were baseless.

He noted that IMSU as an institution had laid down laws guiding the conduct of every official of the institution and insisted that the allegations against Mbata were a smear campaign being carried by persons to hurt his image. But one of the contractors described the statement of of the PRO as an image laundry job. He said the projects the institution’s spokesperson said were still ongoing were needs assessment projects which involved the completion of unfinished projects. According to the contractor, all TETFund projects  which are capital projects in IMSU have been abandoned because money is not being advanced to the contractors in charge.
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