Worker’s Union Petitions Buhari Over N14bn NEZCO Fund
The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria on Tuesday said it would write a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari seeking the investigation of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah.
The association said the minister should be investigated over his “illegal and fraudulent” transfer of N14.37bn from the capital account of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority to a private company- Nigeria Special Economic Zones Company.
The association said based on its investigation into the identity of the private company, it was discovered that the company’s real name was Nigeria Sez Investment Company Limited and not Nigeria Special Economic Zones Company.
It claimed that out of the three directors of the company, two were serving aides of the minister.
The association also claimed, “This company is fraudulently designed and created by the minister to take over the responsibilities of NEPZA, a development that negates the core principles of the current administration’s fight against corruption and fraud.”
Speaking during a media briefing in Abuja, the Head, ASCSN Federal Capital Territory Chapter, Mr Isaac Ojemhenke, stated that the President should order a probe into the World Bank — Federal Government Growth Employment Project intended to boost small businesses in Nigeria.
He claimed Enelamah flouted the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding of the project by not accepting to liaise with the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation on the posting of Director and Assistant Director to occupy the positions of Project Coordinator and Assistant Project Coordinator respectively.
Rather, he claimed that the minister converted the project into his personal project, engaged a member of staff of his personal company, African Alliance Company, as a project coordinator with a monthly salary of N4.7m and reducing the number of benefiting Small and Medium Enterprises from the initial 4,000 to only 25 SMEs.
He said, “The Honourable Minister of the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelemah, should be investigated, and if found culpable, should be made to face the full weight of the law as a deterrence to others of his like.”
“The two aides of the minister listed as Directors of NSEZCO be investigated with a view to evoking appropriate sanctions.
“The sum of N14, 376,027,584.65 transferred illegally and fraudulently from NEPZA Capital Project Account to NSEZCO should be returned immediately.”
“The National Office of Trade Negotiation should be scrapped forthwith as it is an unnecessary duplication of the functions of the Trade Department in the Ministry.
“President Buhari’s administration should investigate the involvement of the Minister of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, in the NSEZCO’s saga as revealed not only by the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria but also by the Senate Committee on Industry, Trade and Investment during the budget defense of the ministry.
“This request for an investigation of Okechukwu Enelama’s involvement in the NSEZCO saga is sequel to his unbridled boast that nothing will happen to him as a result of his involvement because he has the backing of the power that be.”
“No wonder he is going ahead with the execution of the programmes in spite of public outcry against his actions.”
When contacted, the Strategy and Communications Adviser to the Minister Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Bisi Daniel, said that various allegations on NSEZCO had been debunked by the ministry on many occasions.
In a statement issued by him in reaction to the allegations of the workers’ union, he recalled that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had in a meeting with the strategic investment partners at the Presidential Villa last week, put to rest rumours about the company.
He said the VP had “condemned the recent misrepresentations that have been created about NSEZCO in certain sections of the media and regretted the embarrassment this may have caused the investors.”
The statement reaffirmed the FG’s endorsement of the strategies and plans put in place for the actualisation of the Special Economic Zones.