•Security beefed up at Palm House as govt alleges arson attempt
By Gabriel Enogholase & Ozioruva Aliu
BENIN CITY—THE Edo State Government and the All Progressives Congress, APC, have engaged in a war of words over plans by the state government to probe the multi-phased Benin Water Storm project which the first phase of N30billion, Governor Godwin Obaseki on Monday, said was not designed to work and was a plot to defraud the state.
The state government, also said, yesterday, that it had deployed security operatives on Monday night to safeguard the premises of the state Government Secretariat also known as Palm House, in Benin City, following intelligence reports of an arson attempt at the Ministry of Environment and Sustainability offices, to destroy critical documents about the N30 billion Benin stormwater project.
But a statement by Publicity Secretary of APC, Chris Azebamwan, yesterday, dared Governor Obaseki to carry out his threat to probe the project and make its “findings public, so that the very enlightened and informed Edo people would know the truth of the matter.”
A statement by the Secretary to State Government, SSG, Osarodion Ogie, said that the government would ensure that it uncovers the details surrounding the project, its execution and also assured that all those culpable were brought to justice.
Ogie noted, “Following the commitment of the Edo State Government to probe the N30 billion Benin stormwater project, the state received intelligence of a possible arson at the offices of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainability, which houses vital documents on the project.
“The government immediately deployed security operatives to guard the premises of the Ministry overnight to protect its assets.
“We have successfully evacuated these vital documents to a safe location to ensure their integrity and in readiness for a probe.”
Meanwhile, APC in a statement by Azebamwan said the project was jointly handled by the State Ministry Environment and Public Utilities and Ministry of Works with several commissioners including Ogie, who was in charge of the Works Ministry.
He said: “While the project was ongoing, Obaseki as chairman of the Economic Team, regularly accompanied his predecessor to inspect the progress of work after he played the key role of sourcing the first N25 billion from the Capital Market through his company, Afrinvest, which reportedly got N1.5billion commission from the deal.‘‘
“The commission paid to Afrinvest was for acting as Consultants to the project and drafting the project proposal which, Obaseki as the Head of Economic team presented for approval to the State Executive Council and followed it up by shortlisting contractors for the project.
“It will be comical and equally ingenious of the governor to carry out this probe. It will not only be revealing but end up as a milestone that could well turn out to become a benchmark for the country.
“The APC is disappointed over the failure of Governor Obaseki to showcase any achievement in his 100 days but would rather take to chasing shadows by threatening to probe a project he supervised its takeoff and later abandoned.”