Ondo State Governorship Election: ACN candidate, Rotimi Akeredolu in 'alleged' contract fraud

Candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the October 20 gubernatorial election in Ondo state, Rotimi Akeredolu has been given a 14day ultimatum to resign his candidature of the election following allegations of monumental fraud and gross abuse of office made against him during his tenure as the President of the Nigerian Bar Association.

An Abuja based group, Good Governance Monitor (GGM) while making the call accused Akeredolu of fraudulent manifestations as the President of the NBA thus declaring him unfit to occupy the exalted office of the governor .

Relying on a letter of complaint written to the ACN gubernatorial candidate by his colleagues accusing him of diverting NBA contract to his personal company, AKT Ventures Limited as well as converting to personal use the sum of N3m from the Niger state government, the group said there are ample reasons to doubt the capability of the Lawyer to judiciously handle the finances of a state hence the demand that he withdraw from the election.

In a statement signed by the President of GGM, Barry Lakemfa, with relevant documents to support its claim, the group quoted a document dated 4th September 2009 written to Akeredolu by fellow stake holders and National Officers of the NBA who said they are
worried and disturbed by ACN candidate’s “fraudulent manifestations and continuous violation of the constitution of the Nigeria Bar Association” hence the demand for explanations from Akeredolu over the catalogue of accusations with accompanied documented proofs against him which the group said he has refused to address.

The stakeholders mentioned it to the politician popularly called Aketi that: "It has come to our notice that you awarded and approved contract for the printing of the Bar Perspective and voice of the Bar to a company named AKT Ventures Limited with RC No 104097 which said company has as subscribers to the Memorandum and Articles of Association and Directors, Oluwarotimi O Akeredolu, yourself, Betty C Akeredolu (Mrs) your wife, Oluwole A. Akeredolu, your son, Kolawole O. Akeredolu, your brother and approved and signed a cheque for the total sum of Three Million, Three Hundred and Twenty Thousand Naira(N3,320,000.00) and paid it into the said accounts in two installments."

“This said amount is not provided for in INEC approved budgetary allocation for the year having approved the sum of One Million Naira instead of the sum of Nine Hundred and Twenty Thousand Naira provided for publication in the budgetary allocation for the year.”

The stakeholders also put it to Akeredolu that from the approval memo to the then NBA president from the publicity secretary Abdulrasheed Oladimeji Murtala Esq dated 29th July, 2009, where he approved on the same date the release of the sum of 2million Naira to him “ it is crystal clear that the General Secretary NBA Mr Ibrahim Mark raised objections as regard your approval of same with valid stated/written reasons in the same memo but instead you the president in connivance with the Treasurer Mrs Tess Moriis-Okeke who prepared this budget and who knew this money was not budgeted for signed the cheque for the sum of N2m.

“Further, the said memo of 29th of July,2009, requested for the sum of N2m to cover printing expenses, but on the 20th of August , 2009, vide a memo from the same publicity Secretary to you, you approved on the same date another sum of N1,3200,000.00 for the balance of the publications which you and the Treasurer aforementioned signed out the cheque on the date in the name of one Amos Lungu, a staff of the NBA who accordingly withdrew the said sum and paid into AKT Ventures limited bank account.

“The fraud in this matter is that after approving the sum of N2m described in the memo of 29th July, 2009 as printing expenses, you went further to approve another sum of N1, 320,000,00 against the tenor of the first application all because the amount was to be paid to your private company without giving regard to the fact that Odade Publishers Limited has for long been printing NBA Bar Perspective free of charge in NBA annual conferences.”

“More worrisome in this matter” the stakeholders lamented “is that the Bar Perspective, 2000 copies was printed by your private company at the cost of N1,600.00 per copy without any tender from any other printing company to justify this astronomical and unbelievable price” even as it was mentioned that there was nothing to show that all the copies as requested in the memos were printed and delivered to the NBA because both the approval, printing and delivery of these publications were strictly at the whims and caprices of the ACN Ondo gubernatorial flag bearer then in his capacity as the NBA president.

Submitting that as National officers “our privileges have been eroded by this your sordid and unbecoming actions” the stakeholders further mentioned that “we cannot as the Bar criticize government and how it run and perpetrate more bizarre fraudulent acts” adding that they also feel frightened and disturbed that the one “ we elected as the President of the most virile professional Association in Nigeria can exhibit these tendencies”

Continuing, the stakeholders in their letter of complaint to Akeredolu said “it is also within our knowledge that during your unapproved courtesy visit to Uyo Awka Ibom state in January, 2009 you received the sum of N5m meant for the Association and fraudulently converted to your own use the sum of N3m from the Niger state government in November, 2008 in a petrol filling station in Minna after the NEC meeting which money was contained in a bag that has the picture of the Niger state Governor.”

In the complaint letter signed by Barth Okoye-Aniche the 3rd Vice President, Chief Ganny Ajape, welfare secretary and Steve Onyechi Ononye the Assistant Financial Secretary, Akeredolu was accused of consistent refusal to hold meeting of NBA National Officers, with
the stake holders stating their hope that Akeredolu will “ will do needful in the circumstances and save the Bar from unnecessary and avoidable embarrassments”

Declaring that the ACN gubernatorial candidate with the fool proof evidence of fraud against him as the President of the NBA, the GGM president, Lakemfa demanded that Akeredolu withdraw from the Ondo state gubernatorial race within fourteen days following the lid which has been blown off what he called his negative manifestations as NBA president, failure of which he said he will be dragged to court.