Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi has denied a claim by his predecessor, Chief Martin Elechi that he headed the Executive Council Committee on Inspection during his (Elechi) second tenure as governor.
Umahi also dismissed allegation that he was the hand behind a number of petitions before the Economic Financial Crimes Commission against Elechi and some of his children.
The governor was reacting to a letter written to him by Elechi rejecting a V8 Toyota Jeep gift he gave to him. The letter, which was copied the Speaker of the State House od Assembly, the state Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Department of State Security Service in the state, was leaked to the press.
But Umahi, at an Agriculture summit organised for clerics in Abakaliki, said the Exco had agreed to ignore the letter but since the former governor had decided to make it public, it was necessary to put the facts correct.
He said, “I would not have commented on the letter of my former boss if it had not been published. We agreed in the Exco that we should ignore it but when I started seeing it published, I felt that in a public gathering like this, we have to clear some certain issues.”
The governor, however, explained that he was sometimes drafted to a monitoring team if there were engineering difficulties in some projects during Elechi’s tenure. He mentioned some of them as the Oferekpe water project and the Agba Bridge which he said that his involvement helped to save the state a whopping N1.6 billion.
He emphasised that vehicles were purchased for former governors, including Elechi and a former Senate President, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim.
Umahi said rejecting the car was not the best option as Elechi had written to him shortly after he left office to give his wife two cars which he obliged.
He also faulted where the former governor said in the letter that he never advised him.
His words: “How can I advise somebody who does not take advice and never changed his mind when he says something?
“I advised him on the issue of NigerCem and the clergymen also did, which by now, Ibeto would have revived the company but he refused.”
Umahi said some of the petitions that had made Elechi a regular visitor to the EFCC were written when both of them were in government as governor and deputy governor “by someone who is now in his (Elechi) camp.”
Insisting that his administration never wrote any petition against the former governor, he said he had personally appealed to the EFCC to leave Elechi alone because of his age.
He said he also told the commission that if Elechi was found wanting in anyway, he would pay back. He, however, added that Elechi’s children who were involved in contract scams would have to answer for their actions.
The governor added, “This administration has never written anything to the EFCC. I say this between God and myself. I told the EFCC that they should allow this man (Chief Elechi) some peace because he is aged. I told them that if they find him wanting in terms of money, I will undertake to be paying gradually until it is cleared.
“I said that because he is the one that brought us to leadership but not for his children. His children will answer the question on whatever they committed. One of his children is accused of involvement in a multi-million naira ICT project fraud. I want people to know that I was not there when the job was given to him.”
He said the contractors which the former governor said he chased out of the state were not honest and that no sincere government would have worked with them.
Umahi explained that the cost of most of the contracts given by the former governor were found to have been over-inflated. This, according to him, made his government to call for joint measurement which made them to flee.
He wondered why the former governor whom he honestly served as “a slave” could be harbouring ill-feelings against him.
He told the gathering that 15 of his commissioners had been regular visitors to the ICPC courtesy of allegations by Elechi’s loyalists that they embezzled billions of naira belonging to the state.
He said he was ready to give Elechi peace and expressed his readiness and willingness for reconciliation if the former governor could approach CAN for truce.