By Wole Mosadomi
Minna — Communities affected by the construction of Zungeru Hydroelectric Dam project in Niger State have alerted the Federal Government over a large scale fraud in respect of payment of compensation to members whose lands were acquired for the multimillion Naira project.
In a letter of protest addressed to the Minister of Power, Mr Babatunde Fashola, the communities accused officials of the ministry and the consultants who were saddled with the responsibility of compensating those affected, of total refusal to pay them, even when the money had been approved.
They called on the minister to investigate and bring those involved to book or be dragged to court in default.
The communities, under the aegis of Shabazhe Youth Movement Association, accused the two consulting firms of diverting their compensation for their own use.
In the letter signed by Zubairu Umar Jiko, Chairman, Umar Usman Maikakaki, Secretary and four others, the association said: “We call on you to investigate this.
We also enjoin you to find time to investigate bank accounts of the consulting firms at Skye Bank. Doing so will reveal that the manner of lodgements into those accounts is contrary to civil service general order that stipulates that public fund can only be paid into a private account in the manner the lodgements were made only if the payee provided a bank guarantee or bond in the like sum which did not happen in this case.
“As at now, no payment has been made in respect of houses and structures. Compensations for the land on which the people are to be settled have not been paid, ditto for the provision of social amenities such as schools, roads etc are yet to be provided at the so called resettlement site.
“To us, nothing has been done in the matter of resettling the people whose lands were acquired for the dam.”
The association called on the minister to ensure that fair and adequate compensation for the lands acquired be paid as ordered by the court through their Attorneys, resettle the land owners, compel the Ministry to obey court orders in respect of the project and ensure independent auditing of all payments made to the duo of Messrs Mohammed & Co. and Messrs George Nzei and Co.
The people said similar protest had been forwarded to the immediate past minister but lamented that he ignored the protest and called on the new Minister to act immediately, in line with the new agenda of the present administration which revolved around change, transparency and accountability.
Niger State High Court, presided over by Justice Evuti, had on March 20 this year, granted the prayers of some of the land owners asking the contractors to stop work until adequate compensation and resettlement had been effected, which is being ignored by the contractors.