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EFCC TO CONSIDER PROBE OF IBAKA DEEP SEAPORT

EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has begun a covert probe into how billions of naira were siphoned by the Godswill Akpabio regime for the construction of the Ibaka Deep Sea Port when facts on the ground indicates nothing is on ground to justify the huge budgetary allocation in the States annual budget spanning a period of over six years.

Investigation shows that Akpabio got the State House of Assembly to be approving billions of naira in the States annual budget under the guise of developing the Ibaka Deep Sea Port but a visit to the area in Mbo LGA shows an expansive piece of land overgrown by weed with only the cenotaph of the ground breaking ceremony held years ago.

Preliminary investigation reveals that Akpabio between 2008- 2015 siphoned N86 billion from the state treasury under the sub head of feasibility study for Ibaka Deep Sea Port. Also, a loan of over N100 billion was secretly gotten from Zenith bank with the help of Udom. Though Akpabio had said he hopes to use the loan to fast track the development of the sea port, the money was diverted to private use immediately it was released to the State Government. It could not be confirmed if the loan had the approval of the State House of Assembly as no document was found to back up the loan acquisition.

As a way to cover up his criminal deeds, Akpabio ordered Udom to set up the Ibaka Deep Sea Port Implementation Committee when Udom took over and use it as a campaign tool in the event of a rerun. But despite the massive financial investment channeled into the project through the budget, the money is withdrew once the budget is passed and siphoned.

Security agents are making a strong case for the revocation of the approval letter issued by the Federal Government to the Akwa Ibom State Government under the Joint MOU partnership for the construction of the Ibaka Deep Sea Port. Akpabio took advantage of the letter as an instrument for loan acquisition which he abused with reckless abandon without any financial commitment towards the completion of the project. The Federal Government may likely withdraw the approval letter it gave the state government for the project following established case of fraud using the instrument by both Akpabio and Udom while the project suffers.

Under the MOU, the Federal Government was to partner with the State Government and some foreign investors to construct and develop the Ibaka Deep Sea Port which was meant to boost the economic development of the state within the Gulf of Guinea region and reposition the state as a major player in the nation’s maritime sub sector. The project was meant to be an avenue to generate massive job and investment opportunity to the State as well as be an income earning avenue to the state. But the criminal minded regime of the Akpabio administration saw the project as a conduit pipe to loot the state dry by siphoning billions of naira meant for the project.

Despite the yearly allocation of several billions of naira for the construction of the deep seaport by both the State Government and the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) since 2011, the project has remained elusive, with no evidence of a port being built at the proposed site.

To make matters worse, the project is missing in the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan and in the list of similar projects planned in partnership between the federal government and state government, with expectations of private investors collaborations, investigations have revealed.

The Ibaka Deep Seaport, a project for which the federal ministry of transport, the NPA and the Akwa Ibom State Government have held several workshops and taken commendations at several events is also missing in a maritime and air transport report prepared by Steer Davies Gleave for the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) hosted by the Africa Development Bank. The water at Ibaka is said to have a natural draft of 11 metres, without dredging, making it a huge potential for possible deep seaport construction.

Akwa Ibom State has continued to budget for the port, which Governor Godswill Akpabio had promised would create employment for 100,000 Nigerians. The NPA on its part had announced in Uyo at the PCC meeting that the deep seaport would be completed in 2015. Not even a single block is on ground as at March 2016 to show that a deep sea port is under construction. A visit to the proposed sites of the deep seaport at Ibaka shows no sign that a seaport was being planned at coastal community. A lonely dilapidated narrow road, better described as a colonial road leads to Ibaka, from Oron.

Besides the terminal for containers and cargoes, the Ibaka Deep Seaport was to have a Free Trade Zone (FTZ), as well as an industrial city. The proposed deep seaport which already has a natural depth.
(Culled from Liberty Voice)

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