Francis Sadhere

In a swift reaction to the alleged missing $6 million sent by Chevron Nigeria Limited as contribution towards the development of the Ugborodo new town project in Delta State, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan has described the allegation as baseless and false.

Speaking to journalists today at Government House Annex, Warri, the Governor challenged the Itsekiri Leader, Pa Johnson Ayomike, who made the allegation, to come out with facts and figures to support his claims.

He also said that the allegation may not be unconnected with 2015 Delta South Senatorial election, which he said Pa Ayomike has vested interest in.

According to the Governor, Chevron directly deposited the said money into a Bank account which has Ugborodo Trust Fund, Chevron and the state government as signatories, stressing that no money was at any time handed over to anybody.

According to the Governor, Ayomike was out to blackmail him because he did not succeed in making his younger brother chairman of the joint committee to oversee the establishment of the Export Processing Zone in the Area.

Governor Uduaghan explained that the money was still in the bank because the community had issues, adding that there were issues as to who will sand-fill the land meant for the new Ugborodo town project.

The Governor also said that the Ugborodo New Town Project has been on ground ever before he became the governor of the state and that he was not the one that initiated the project.

He stated that the state government in its efforts to be involved in the project has through the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC), built some houses in the said land.

Explaining how the money went, a bank official of the Bank who was invited by Governor Uduaghan  told newsmen that;  “The 6 million dollars was received by the then Oceanic Bank and the naira equivalent then was 705 million naira and was put in a fixed deposit account. This happened in December 18, 2008. And of today, the said 705 million naira has grown to nine hundred and sixty eight million, six hundred and fourteen thousand, six hundred and thirteen naira, forty-two kobo (N968,614,613.42k). The money is still in the bank account”

Governor Uduaghan also wondered why Pa Ayomike held a press conference telling people that the said amount was missing when he was the one that reported the matter to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission and Special Fund Unit.

He said Pa Ayomike would have waited for the results of the investigations before going to press with the allegation.

Also speaking to journalists, the Delta State Commissioner for Oil and Gas, Mr. Mofe Pirah who was then the Chairman of Ugborodo Trust Fund when Chevron brought the money, explained that the said money was paid in naira and not in dollars.

He said one of the problems in Ugborodo community was that the people wanted to have direct access to the funds, adding that the Ugborodo people were not happy that the money was given to the trust to handle.