…urged to investigate rent collectors
By Ugochukwu Alaribe
UMUAHIA- A businessman, Dr. Ako Obioma has added his voice to the Abia State Government House controversy, saying it was owned by the former Eastern region and was ceded to the old Imo state, and then later to Abia state when the state was created in August 1991.
Obioma urged the Governor to investigate the alleged ownership of the state Government House, Umuahia, by an individual who receives payment on the property.
In a letter addressed to the Governor, Obioma disclosed that the Abia state Government House was owned by the defunct Eastern Region and was used by Dr Michael Okpara and Colonel Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu as Governor’s Lodge.
He added that the rumours making the rounds that the property is owned by a certain individual calls for immediate investigation and for the Governor to act on the matter.
In his letter to Gov. Otti; Obioma said; “I was astonished to read your comments on the need to complete the new Government House because the present Government House is a rented property. Please I write to advise that you investigate thoroughly at what point our Abia Government House, Umuahia became rented property and who is the owner. It may interest you to know that at the creation of Abia State in August 1991 and swearing-in of then Group Captain Frank Ajobena,rtd, as first Military Administrator, I was privileged to have been introduced to him by then powers that be as a major contractor in the federal and old Imo State. So, that relationship gave me the privilege as his closest Abia civilian and my company was first to be awarded a contract by the regime. After his swearing-in, Group Capt Ajobena remained in Douglas House, Owerri for some days to allow for complete clean-up of the present Government House, Umuahia, before resuming work at Umuahia.
“This present Government House was then a big two (2) bedroom duplex owned by the former Eastern Region which was used by late Dr Michael Okpara and Col. Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu as Governor’s Lodge, with Enugu as headquarters before it was ceded to Imo State and subsequently to Abia State upon its creation in 1991.
“Because it was the seat of power of the then Eastern region, all the land surrounding it was owed by Eastern Region government as Government Reserved Area, GRA, with the back as forestry without encroachment until the civilian regime of the late Chief Sam Mbakwe, when few lands were allocated to defunct NPP political cronies.
He continued; “On assumption of office, Ajobena ordered revocation of those lands allocated in the GRA, especially those within the Government House environment.
“Among those critical ones were the one allocated to the late Air Commodore. Emeka Omeruah, where he built the uncompleted duplex which now serves as the Governor’s Office. The second most critical were the land opposite Commodore Emeka Omeruah, which was allocated to Hon. Eze Albert Uwanamodo, who represented Umuahia in the Imo State House of Assembly under the late Chief Sam Mbakwe, where he was constructing 4 twin duplex which were at DPC levels.
“Due to the personalities involved which included his boss, Omeruah, Ajobena ordered that the cost of these properties and structures on it be evaluated which was done and the owners were completely paid off. Ajobena now awarded contracts for the reconstruction of the Governor’s Lodge and Construction of the banquet hall which were completed as you have them today.
“He awarded a contract for completion of the Emeka Omeruah building to serve as Governor’s office, construction of 8 duplexes on the Uwanamodo structure to serve as Governor’s guest houses and other structures which my companies were also beneficiaries too.
“While myself and another contractor did the building and furnishing of the Chapel to Government House.
“In the recent years that passed, I had taken this insinuation as rumour until your latest pronouncement, hence Abians would like to be detailed on how our property of over 60 years has become a rented apartment and who are the landlords receiving the rent.
“Please, Your Excellency, where you find more ambiguities in my explanation, you may invite me for a more detailed explanation.”