The Edo State All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday asked the anti-graft bodies to investigate the Afriinvest owned by Governor Godwin Obaseki.
By John Mayaki
The party also said the planned approval to PRIMUS BANK should be suspended, pending the outcome of the investigation.
Edo APC Campaign media adviser John Mayaki told reporters in Benin city, the state capital, that the link between the Edo State government and the company should be investigated.
He noted that a petition has been submitted to the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) on the alleged dealings between the state government and the company.
But, Obaseki’s media adviser Crusoe Osagie denied the allegations, saying that APC indulged in propaganda because it has lost steam in Edo.
Mayaki said: “Upon his emergence as governor, he installed a puppet in the person of one Ike Chioke as the head of the firm while, from behind the scenes, he continued to pull the strings. There have been previous alarms raised as to the nature of the relationship between the Edo State Government and Afrinvest Limited since Obaseki emerged as governor.
“In 2016, when Mr. Godwin Obaseki was seeking to be Governor, his AfriInvest company was near insolvency. The ingrate could barely raise ten million naira to sponsor his own governorship bid.
However, according to the petition, in a dramatic twist the same company, barely four years after, is now on the verge of seeking approval for the ownership of a regional bank with the name: PRIMUS BANK.”
Mayaki said the petitioners alleged that Obaseki has used his influence to shore up his personal firm, Afrinvest, and to fund his dream of owning a bank.
He added: “In an instance cited in the petition, it was mentioned that upon his assumption, Obaseki unilaterally increased the security votes to 7.5 billion naira annually.
“The security vote is a budgeted fund spent at the discretion of the governor. While other governors have spent the funds faithfully and with transparency, Obaseki has not spent it judiciously.
“It is also a fact that, of the 7.5 billion naira annual largesse Obaseki pockets as security vote, the outgoing governor hands only 5 million naira to the Police and other security agencies as operation funds, alhough this paltry and disgraceful sum is not sufficient to fuel the available vehicles, much less provide needed infrastructure to improve the state of security in Edo.
“As a result, kidnapping, cult killings, and other crimes have been on the rise in Edo State since 2016.
“According to the petitioners, Governor Obaseki’s hoarding of the billions allocated for security vote meant to protect the lives and properties of Edo people is because he was using the sum for his personal firm, Afrinvest, and to acquire the PRIMUS BANK, a regional bank
“The petitioners also discovered that since 2016, while Edo State has posted terrible, declining figures in critical development indices, Obaseki’s firm, AfriInvest, has enjoyed a new lease of life, posting suspicious profits every year to the point where it is now the major funder of a planned regional bank named PRIMUS BANK.
In another instance the petitioners aleged that Obaseki, in violation of the government’s rules on contracts awarding and the elimination of nepotism, awarded huge amounts as consultancy deal to his firm.
While State funds are meant for people-centered projects, Obaseki has committed it to self-aggrandizement and a lavish retirement plan.
We are resolved to follow up on the petition submitted by the PDP members to CBN and the ICPC demanding the immediate investigation of AFRINVEST, its fund sources, and business operations from 2016 to date.
We are also joining our voices to that of the petitioners, demanding the immediate suspension of any planned approval to PRIMUS BANK until the conclusion of all investigations to unravel the truth.”