How Gov. Umahi Stole Billions from Ebonyi Treasury.
The Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi state has clutched onto his vast business interests just as firmly as his grip on political power, Peoples Gazette reports, in sheer disdain for extant code of conduct regulations precluding senior public officials from conducting private businesses, except subsistence agriculture, while in office.
David Umahi was given a chance to govern the poorest state in southern Nigeria. But expanding his own pocket has been his priority from day one.
Bank records of Ebonyi State’s, recently obtained by the Gazette, showed a sustained trend of illicit financial flows from the state’s purse to Brass Engineering & Construction Nig. Ltd., which CAC filings showed belonged to Mr. Umahi, 57.
Between 2011 and 2019, Brass Engineering, which Mr. Umahi founded and chaired since 1993, has received more than N3.6 billion, records show. Mr. Umahi started transferring state funds into Brass Engineering shortly after becoming deputy governor to Martin Elechi in 2011. When he assumed governor himself in 2015, he continued the suspicious transaction with his firm, despite claiming to have recused himself from the firm’s management in 2011.
The transactions, totalling N3,623,496,247, constitute available records of several tranches of disbursements made from state bank accounts to Brass Engineering, for shoddy government contracts commandeered by Mr. Umahi for his private firm.
The Gazette also uncovered how state officials erased suspicious payment records between Ebonyi and Brass Engineering, said to be managed by Mr. Umahi’s younger brother Austin.
Bank records seen by the Gazette showed that a string of twelve transactions totalling N1,263,550,513 was paid to Brass Engineering since 2011. The money was transferred from Ebonyi StateExpenditure Accounts 1001158077 and 1015339019 with UBA.
Date of the transactions was, however, erased from the bank records.
On May 17, 2012, Brass Engineering received N29,840,214 four times and N526,062,249 twice on the same day from the state’s expenditure account with UBA. The same account also transferred N215,791,478 on April 2, N29,971,717 on October 23, N56,637,703 on November 1, N178,000,000 on December 3, N56,637,703 on December 14 and N149,543,855 on December 24, to Brass Engineering.
The six transactions — all paid in 2012 totalled N1,858,067,810.
Further analysis of Ebonyi’s finances showed that in 2013, the state government’s account did not show any transaction details, in an apparently dubious move to circumvent accountability.