RULAAC seeks probe into alleged sale, vandalism of Imo community water project

Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has called for a probe into the alleged sale and vandalism of a gigantic water project in Adakam Amumara Autonomous Community, Ezinihitte Mbaise Council, Imo State.

The Executive Director of the centre, Okechukwu Nwanguma, in a petition to Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Imo Command, noted that some of the apprehended ‘vandals’ claimed to have acquired the facility from former Governor Rochas Okorocha.

He quoted the Chairman-General of Umuokpo village in Adakam Amumara, Oscar Albert, to have called on NSCDC to urgently investigate the sale of the multi-billion-naira water facility in their village.

RULAAC also quoted that former chairman of Umuokpo, Nkemjikam Erondu, stated in a voice note: “Some people (identities withheld) invited me to Town School, Adakam Amumara, where they said they bought the water scheme from Okorocha in 2017 when he was governor.

“They claimed to have confirmed the sale with Governor Hope Uzodimma; that they invited him, in his capacity as the Chairman of the village, informing him to avoid any challenge when they come to dismantle and carry the equipment.”

He also noted that the people promised to pay the sum of N200,000 to the host village as compensation.

Erondu further revealed that the traditional ruler of Adakam autonomous community, Eze O.B. Nwokocha, ‘sent somebody’ who confirmed that the project was sold to the people and that the village chairman should be informed before the equipment would be dismantled.

The leadership of Umuokpo village said that Erondu did not communicate with the village council after he received the message from Eze Nwokocha, to enable the village leaders to verify the information from the traditional ruler.

“Villagers woke up about two weeks ago to witness massive vandalisation and carting away of dismembered equipment and raised the alarm. Videos of scenes within the precincts of the project site reveal dismantled and massively vandalized installations with tools such as gas cylinders and others suspected to have been used for the dismantling and dismemberment of the equipment before carting most of them away.

“More than two weeks after the village raised the alarm about this disturbing development, the community leadership has remained mute and has done nothing known to the entire Adakam community which is the host community for the government project.

“This is in spite of the further information that the ‘people’ also previously visited the palace accompanied by ‘a lawyer’ who presented some documents to the traditional ruler which they claimed was evidence that ‘their company’ had bought the project from the state government.

“The people of the community are in serious doubt about the genuineness of the claim by a yet-to-be-identified ‘company’ that the government sold to them a government water project installed at a huge cost.

“The more curious thing about this whole episode is how this ‘company’ could have waited for more than 8 years after the administration they claimed to have sold the project to them left office before they came to claim it,” RULAAC petition further stated.

“Could it be true that the administration of former governor Rochas Okorocha sold a government project to a private company? Who are the owners of this company? Is it also true that the current government under Senator Hope Uzodinma approved the sale of the project instead of completing it to serve the purpose that the project was conceived and initiated to serve?” the petitioner questioned.

RULAAC further stated that it was informed that the water project at Umuokpo village is one of the greater Owerri, Umuahia, Okigwe and Aba Water Schemes started by former Governor of old Imo State, Dr. Sam Onunaka Mbakwe in the 1980s which he could not complete before the Muhammadu Buhari coup which terminated the life of the republic.

“This gigantic water project initiated at a huge financial cost was intended to provide pipe-borne water to Mbaise and parts of Obowo. The project contains heavy and multi-billion Naira equipment that could not be dismantled and evacuated in one week.

“RULAAC, on behalf of the community members, calls on the NSCDC to spare no effort to unravel the truth and if they find that the claims are false- as they seriously suspect- all those responsible should be brought to book, the already stolen equipment recovered and further stealing of the remaining ones prevented,” the petition added.

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