NewsEbonyi Hawkers' Empowerment Fraud: Group Petitions IGP Over Arrest Of Chika Nwoba

Ebonyi Hawkers’ Empowerment Fraud: Group Petitions IGP Over Arrest Of Chika Nwoba

February 13, (THEWILL) – South-East group operating under the auspices of Coalition of South-East Youth Leaders, on Tuesday, petitioned the Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, the leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Amnesty International to, as a matter of urgency, probe the alleged diversion of N3 billion empowerment fund and the eventual arrest of a whistleblower, Comrade Chika Nwoba, in Ebonyi State.

The group equally urged the Governor of Ebonyi State, Francis Nwifuru, to rise to the occasion, shun sentiment and set up a panel of inquiry to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the allegations of fraud in his administration as it concerns the empowerment fund.

The South-East youth group stated this in a statement by its President-General, Chief Goodluck Ibem, on Tuesday.

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Operatives of the Crack Team of Ebonyi State Police Command, on Sunday, arrested Comrade Nwoba for allegedly petitioning the EFCC that the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Chief Oguzor Offia-Nwaki, alongside three others diverted N3 billion meant for the empowerment of Ebonyi hawkers across major cities in the country. He has been in police custody for three days.

Reacting, the Commissioner said the whistleblower, Nwoba, was being mischievous and had no evidence to prove his claims.

According to him, “How could I have smuggled in 60 names in a program that was organised by seven committee members led by a serving Commissioner for Trade and Investment who acted as the Chairman of the committee which equally had a Secretary? I was neither the committee chairman nor Secretary, and neither was the N1 billion mapped out for the programme paid into my ministry account or an account that I am a signatory to.

“I am a member of the committee with Commissioners For Youths and Sports, Aviation, Agriculture, and the National President of FON Youth Movement. How could I have waved my magic wand and made these men and women give only me 60 slots out of the 100 slots meant for Anambra State?

“What power do I have to exert such an influence on them and propel the committee to do such an outrageous thing without resistance? Why are none of the committee members complaining knowing how I outsmarted them and brought in fake 60 names, according to the noisemaker called NCN? Why am I Nwoba Chika Nwoba’s nightmare?”

But the group, in the statement, kicked against Nwoba’s continued detention, saying that it was an infringement of his fundamental human rights.

The statement read in part, “The Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, the apex sociopolitical youth group in the South East geopolitical zone, on Sunday, February 10, 2024, got disturbing information that Comrade Chika Nwoba, a social media influencer and rights activist, was arrested in Anambra State by a Crack Team from the Ebonyi State Police Command and whisked away to Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi state. Nwoba was arrested through a soft target, Miss Nwoba, who happens to be his youngest sister.

“Miss Nwoba, it was reported, was arrested while on her way from the market after dismissal from Church on Sunday, and was allegedly treated like a common criminal and forced to call her elder brother to come for her rescue. She regained her freedom when her elder brother appeared at the scene. At first, feelers said the Ebonyi-born Rights Activist and social critic was kidnapped and taken to an unknown location until reliable pieces of information came to us that he was being held by the Police Operatives from the Ebonyi State Command.

“What is Nwoba offence? He had petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alleging the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Chief Oguzor Offia Nwali, alongside three others, diverted the sum of Three Billion Naira (N3,000,000,000) only, meant for the Empowerment of Ebonyi boys and girls who are hawking and serving as house helps in the various states of the Federation, whose condition Governor Francis Nwifuru had repeatedly said caused him sleepless nights.

“This money was meant to erase the shame and humiliation Ebonyi indigenes go through while serving as house helps in people’s homes across the federation.

“From our findings, this policy of the State Government was intended to take away over 500 Ebonyians hawking and doing menial businesses out of the streets of Nigeria. In saner climes, such social welfare for the people is usually taken seriously and monitored to the letter by the authorities to ensure it gets to the target audience.

“Our concern here is not to inquire why the Government of the day albeit allegedly left the process unmonitored, but why a whistleblower, who sought an inquiry into how the N3 billion Empowerment Fund was either judiciously disbursed or corruptly diverted by supposed functionaries of the State Government.

“As an unbiased apex Igbo youth group whose core mandate is the propagation of courses that will champion the development and well-being of youths in the South-East Geopolitical zone, we write to draw the attention of the President and Commander-in-Chief, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu; The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Kayode Egbetokun; the leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Amnesty International, among others to intervene in this matter.

“The whistleblower, Comrade Nwoba, has been in Police custody for three days now for simply bringing a supposed rot in the corridors of government to public knowledge.

“We, therefore, call on President Tinubu, the IGP, the EFCC and others to compel the Executive Governor of the State, Chief Francis Nwifuru, to launch a serious probe of the matter and possibly save his government from negative speculations by Ebonyians on the matter.

“The continual detention of Chika Nwoba over a matter that has been duly registered and reported to the EFCC is an infringement on his fundamental rights. We, therefore, further demand that nothing untoward should happen to him while in the Police custody. Those mentioned in the allegation should rather and freely approach the anti-graft agency to prove their innocence rather than restoring to police brigandage and unnecessary witch-hunt. They should be conscious of the fact that the matter is already before a law enforcement agency and should tread with caution.

“The allegation revolves around embezzlement of funds meant for suffering Ebonyi indigenes across the country. Consequently, the Governor should deploy his administrative powers and ensure that those indicated should be brought to book.

“Governor Nwifuru should also ensure that any form of iota of sentiment is discarded to make sure justice reigns in the matter. We seek justice, justice and nothing, but justice.”

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Sunday Ogbu is a professional journalist with eight - twelve years experience that had worked with various print and online media. Sunday specializes in news reporting with the aim of educating his readers on current social, political and economic occurences within his area of coverage. Sunday is a strong force to work with in the media industry and uses his positive attitude and tireless energy to encourage others to work hard and succeed. Sunday is inspired daily by his wife and their four children. In his free time, Sunday likes sight-seeing, reading and discussing issues of societal interest.

Sunday Ogbuhttps://thewillnews.com
Sunday Ogbu is a professional journalist with eight - twelve years experience that had worked with various print and online media. Sunday specializes in news reporting with the aim of educating his readers on current social, political and economic occurences within his area of coverage. Sunday is a strong force to work with in the media industry and uses his positive attitude and tireless energy to encourage others to work hard and succeed. Sunday is inspired daily by his wife and their four children. In his free time, Sunday likes sight-seeing, reading and discussing issues of societal interest.

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