The political troubles for Godsday Orubebe, Nigeria’s Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, appear to be intensifying as a coalition of groups loyal to Edwin Clark, a prominent Ijaw figure and one-time Minister of Information, has demanded that the Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency investigate Mr. Orubebe.
Mr. Clark and Mr. Orubebe have been enmeshed in a lingering political feud, with both men and their associates lobbing attacks at each other. The brewing conflict has assumed a more serious dimension with Clark’s group, known as Delta State PDP Elders, Leaders and Stakeholders Forum, dragging Mr. Orubebe before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
SaharaReporters found out that the group petitioned the EFCC on June, 3 2013. Titled “A Petition On Persistent Corrupt Practices, Flagrant And Continued Disobedience of Laws of The Land By Godsday Peter Orubebe, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs,” the document was signed by Godwin Ogbetuo, Brown Adasen, Cairo Ojougboh, Hope Erute and more than twenty others, including several retired military officers.
The petitioners accused the Minister of various acts of corruption, including inflation of contracts.
Addressed to the EFCC chairman, the petition was also copied to President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, Senate President, David Mark, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, and chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, Ekpo Nta. The document alleged that Orubebe had used his ministerial position to corruptly amass wealth for himself.
“First, we wish to express our gratitude to you and all members of your commission for granting us audience and [to] discuss, protest the over protection of Elder Godsday Orubebe of the serious and wanton corrupt practices under the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs,” the petition stated. It added: “We understand several other bodies [and] groups had petitioned your commission but till date your silence had not helped coupled with the boasting of Elder Godsday Orubebe that ‘with his closeness to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’ he has effectively pocketed your commission and no amount of petitions no matter how serious can see the light of the day.”
The petitioners asserted that Mr. Orubebe spent N1.2 billion “on a worthless canalization project which connects to nowhere.” He reportedly also spent “more than N3 billion on building a concrete foreshore wall in his village, using contractors who are fronting for him, with a view of appropriating the money to himself.”
Mr. Orubebe’s ministerial tenure has been marked by controversy, with numerous groups and persons from the Niger Delta accusing him of embezzling funds that should have gone to infrastructural development in the Niger Delta. His closeness to President Jonathan as well as his declared interest in becoming the next governor of Delta State have provoked his political foes to expose what one of them called “his rise from rags to riches at the expense of the Niger Delta people.”
The petition to the EFCC stated that the minister hails from a small community, but has concentrated several over-inflated projects in his area. According to the petition, “The Skill Acquisition Center meant for Delta State is also been built in [Mr. Orubebe’s] ward of which his small village is part of it. Apart from the main contractor, all other contractors are his blood relatives who are fronting for him to collect billions.”
The petitioners accused the minister of acting against the recommendation of public procurement office when he terminated the contract for the Edo State Acquisition Skill Center that was awarded to Halgold Nigeria Limited. They stated that Orubebe re-awarded the contract to Messrs. TDCI-Sew Consortium for personal reasons of greed and self-aggrandizement rather than the good of the people.”
The signatories to the petition implored the EFCC to live up to its billing by proving to all Nigerians that there are no sacred cows in the fight to eradicate corruption. They added that further investigation of the minister would unearth more shocking revelations of how a pauper like Mr. Orubebe became super rich a few years after his appointment as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
The petitioners disclosed that the initial contract for the Edo State Skill Acquisition Center was awarded in March, 2010 at the cost of N2.7 billion. But after the contract was voided by Mr. Orubebe, he re-awarded it to Halgold for more than N3 billion in March, 2012. “However, in 2012, the Minister cancelled the contract and awarded it to TDCI-Sew Consortium on June 15, 2012” for more than N4.6 billion. “Why the frequent cancellation and re-awarding?” the petitioners demanded. “Why the inflation of cost each time these contracts are re-awarded? These are issues to be resolved if EFCC must win the war against corruption.”
Explaining their long history of fighting corruption in Delta State, the signatories stated that they “continuously fought corruption and…forwarded a petition on James Onanefe Ibori and stood by our position despite the obstacles we encountered.
“James Ibori had used N800 million shares of Delta State in Oceanic Bank to obtain a loan of N44 billion from Inter-continental Bank. He later sold part of these shares to service the loan. It was our petition to the EFCC that made the anti-corruption agency declare James Ibori wanted and that later made him [flee] the country.
“It would be recalled that when EFCC refused to probe James Ibori on the fictitious Delta State supplementary budget, which was not passed by the then House but signed by the clerk of the House in 2007 to give a false erroneous impression that the house debated and passed the budget into law, amounting to N120 billion, we took James Ibori to court and Elder Godsday Peter Orubebe, the present Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, was one of the plaintiffs including Chief Godwin Ogbetuo and Chief Sunday Iyawa and this case is still in court. It is, therefore, ridiculous that Godsday Peter Orubebe who was among us fighting corruption should be the one to soil his hands as a Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.”
All efforts to contact Mr. Orubebe did not yield any result as his mobile line was not picked up. He also did not respond to our text messages as at the time of filing this story.