Federal Fire Service Comptroller General In Massive Fraud!

Not a few Nigerians are of the opinion that the nation’s Fire Service lacks capacity, both in terms of manpower and equipment to adequately cope with the challenges that come with the discharge of its duties. While the general public is made to believe that the Fire Service is underfunded by the Federal Government, investigations conducted by Street Journal have revealed that gigantic frauds perpetrated by top officials of the Federal Fire Service have gone unnoticed over the last few years.

Not too long ago, the Federal Government decided to open up the sector and allow private participation. It was however found out that the guidelines put in place for the take off were such that could not be met, not even by the Federal Fire Service. Findings revealed that the Fire Service did not consult any stakeholder in the industry before concluding the guidelines; rather, they were only invited to its public presentation.

Street Journal’s findings linked the ownership of a private Fire Service company, Oke Fire to the Comptroller General of the Fire Service, James Olusegun Okebiorun. Further probe also yielded that Oke Fire is a joint venture between the Comptroller General and Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho, the former Minister of Interior. There were allegations then that the two men floated the company in order to use their positions to corner jobs for the company by operating their company in a setting where they are regulators.

Street Journal has also found out that apart from the private interest of the Comptroller General of the Service conflicting with that of the Fire Service and the good of the Nigerian public once in a while, public funds meant for the use of the fire service can hardly be accounted for as allegations of mismanagement and private appropriation of public funds have trailed officials.

Investigations revealed that most of the equipments for which provisions were made in the annual budget were not procured while the funds were expended. It was found out that public funds were diverted constantly to private accounts as companies’ names were used to siphon public funds without any work done.

An example is the case of Kingsville Educational Services, which checks at the Corporate Affairs Commission revealed to be jointly owned by the present Comptroller General and his wife Temilola.  A Chartered Bank Cheque was issued to one G.J Anebi, an official of the Federal Fire Service and the funds were meant for an official assignment. Incidentally, the cheque issued on April 30, 2003 belongs to Kingsville Educational Services with the account number 7200013352.

The Federal Fire Service has also received more than N 1.5 billion for the development of the National Fire Academy, and what is on ground is not commensurate with the amount that has been expended on it.

Street Journal also found out that cases of tender splitting have become a regular occurrence in the Federal Fire Service with the Comptroller General ensuring that the scrutiny of Due Process is prevented, an act that contravenes Section 58(d) of the Public Procurement Act 2007.

Contrary to what the average Nigerian is made to believe that the Federal Fire Service is underfunded, the high level of corruption that exists within the service has prevented any meaningful development from taking place within the service.  There is hardly a section where fraud is not perpetrated by the senior officials of the service.

Ask the top officials of the Federal Fire Service about hydrants and they will tell you that the Service maintains hydrants in all the 36 states of the federation with huge amounts. Street Journal has however found out that the hydrants are only being maintained on paper as the location of the hydrants cannot be ascertained. Investigations also revealed that though the Fire Service is expected to have established at least 15 Fire Stations nationwide, but as at now, the Service cannot boast of five.

Over the last four years, the Federal Fire Service has recorded not less than N 3 billion in capital allocation, yet the Service cannot boast of effective fire fighting equipments. The rot within the service became obvious after the bomb attack on the Police Headquarters in Abuja where the inadequacy of the Fire Service was greatly exposed.

Findings revealed that on the average, a good fire fighting truck costs about N 40 million, thus indicating that the Federal Fire Service should be able to conveniently purchase a number of such.

The fraud in the Federal Fire Service has a pretty long history and it dates back to years ago. It was found out that in 2002, the then Comptroller General, Fidelis Okpogo mismanaged more than N160 million belonging to the Federal Fire Service. As at then, the Fire Service was under the Ministry of Works and as the Comptroller General was at liberty to expend funds as long as such funds did not exceed N 995,000 (Nine hundred and ninety five thousand Naira). Street Journal gathered that the CG signed and spent most of the monies all alone.  To do this without raising any dust, he spent the amount by breaking it into denominated contracts that did not exceed his approval limit.

At a point, the then Comptroller General’s spending was investigated by the Independent and Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), but buttons were allegedly pressed from the top to scuttle the investigation. The Investigation Police Officer, Chiedu Nwokoma was suddenly transferred outside the Federal Capital Territory on the orders of the then Inspector General of Police who happened to be a close pal of the CG.

The N 160 million that was mismanaged by the former Fire Service Chief would have purchased a good number of fire fighting trucks based on the market rates then.

In September 2004, a contract for the Re-engineering and Rehabilitation of SS600 Hydraulic Platform for Fire Fighting in High Rise Buildings at the sum of N 30 million Naira.

Street Journal found out that as Comptroller General, Mr. Okpogo used a company, EFA Sales South Africa as conduit. The company carried out repair works on the 16-year-old equipment to the tune of N 30 million. Not a few Nigerians would be shocked to hear that the Comptroller General never raised an eyebrow over the amount; rather, he openly said the company’s bid was the best. Street Journal also found out that the repairs did not solve the issue of the leaking tank that has bedevilled the particular fire truck for some time now.  Meanwhile, investigations revealed that it would cost between N 50 and N 60 million to buy the new model of the equipment that was repaired for N 30 million.

Surprisingly, the claim was upheld by Due Process and a certificate was issued for N 30 million, duly signed by Obiageli Ezekwesili, the then Senior Special Assistant to the President on Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit.

There have been various allegations that the South African company belongs to the former CG and some of his friends. Street Journal’s investigations also revealed that the few people that were carried along by Mr. Okpogo in his activities included Mr. Okebiorun, (the present Comptroller General) who served as the Assistant Director Fire Service then, the Head of Corporate Affairs, who allegedly helped to suppress all insinuations from the press and the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Housing and Urban Development as well as the Due Process office who deliberately ignored their functions.

A look into the budget of the Fire Service for the year 2010 showed that a number of capital projects were listed, they include the supply of furniture items to the Federal Fire Service Headquarters, Garki, Abuja for which the sum of N 9.51 million was expended, supply of 5 Bulls Eye Trainer Packages, which gulped N 9.7 million, the purchase of fire protection clothing and hot fire gears for training purposes gulped N 28.013 million. Protection clothing and shoes were also supplied at N 8.65 million. Meanwhile, a lot of officials have disclosed that most of the items on the list have not been sighted by men of the service.

Despite insinuations and affirmations from its officials that the service is underfunded by the government, its budget for N 2011 was N 490, 054,000 (Four hundred and ninety million and fifty four thousand Naira). Interestingly, in the 2011 budget proposal, the Fire Service earmarked BN 10 million for the purchase of Protection clothing and Hot fire gears for training purposes while N 5 million was to be spent on the procurement of 500 Library books, journals and training CDs. The sum of N 2,000,000 also appeared in the 2011 budget for the furnishing of the Comptroller General’s house with items to be procured listed as bed/ beddings, kitchen cabinet/wares, laundry equipment, electronics, settee, dinning sets, fridges, A/Cs, shelves and curtains. N 5 million was voted for the furnishing of Senior officers’ quarters, while N 7.5 million was voted for the purchase of office equipment including photocopiers, computers, printers, UPS, stabilizers, fridges, A/Cs and fans.

There are indications that the present CG only took off from where his predecessor stopped while those who know the internal workings of the service have opined that the leadership of the Fire Service has become a “turn by turn” arrangement for senior officials waiting in the wings to milk the agency dry.

 

Author: NewsAdmin

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FLASHBACK: April 22, 1990 – Gideon Orkar’s Coup Speech. Fellow Nigerian Citizens,

On behalf of the patriotic and well-meaning peoples of the Middle Belt and the southern parts of this country, I , Major Gideon Orkar, wish to happily inform you of the successful ousting of the dictatorial, corrupt, drug baronish, evil man, deceitful, homo-sexually-c­­entered, prodigalistic, un-patriotic administration of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida.

We have equally commenced their trials for unabated corruption, mismanagement of national economy, the murders of Dele Giwa, Major-General Mamman Vasta, with other officers as there was no attempted coup but mere intentions that were yet to materialize and other human rights violations.

The National Guard already in its formative stage is disbanded with immediate effect. Decrees Number 2 and 46 are hereby abrogated. We wish to emphasize that this is not just another coup but a well-conceived,­­ planned and executed revolution for the marginalized, oppressed and enslaved peoples of the Middle Belt and the south with a view to freeing ourselves and children yet unborn from eternal slavery and colonization by a clique of this country.

Our history is replete with numerous and uncontrollable instances of callous and insensitive dominatory repressive intrigues by those who think it is their birthright to dominate till eternity the political and economic privileges of this great country to the exclusion of the people of the Middle Belt and the south.

They have almost succeeded in subjugating the Middle Belt and making them voiceless and now extending same to the south.

It is our unflinching belief that this quest for domination, oppression and marginalization­­ is against the wish of God and therefore, must be resisted with the vehemence.

Anything that has a beginning must have an end. It will also suffice here to state that all Nigerians without skeleton in their cupboards need not to be afraid of this change. However, those with skeleton in their cupboards have all reasons to fear, because the time of reckoning has come.

For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to state the three primary reasons why we have decided to oust the satanic Babangida administration.­­ The reasons are as follows:

(a) To stop Babangida’s desire to cunningly, install himself as Nigeria’s life president at all costs and by so doing, slowpoke the progress of this country for life. In order to be able to achieve this undesirable goals of his, he has evidently started destroying those groups and sections he perceived as being able to question his desires.

Examples of groups already neutralized, pitched against one another or completely destroyed are:

(1) The Sokoto caliphate by installing an unwanted Sultan to cause division within the hitherto strong Sokoto caliphate.

(2) The destruction of the peoples of Plateau State, especially the Lantang people, as a balancing force in the body politics of this country.

(3) The buying of the press by generous monetary favors and the usage of State Security Service, SSS, as a tool of terror.

(4) The intent to cow the students by the promulgation of the draconian decree Number 47.

(5) The cowing of the university teaching and non-teaching staff by an intended massive purge, using the 150 million dollar loan as the necessitating factor.

(6) Deliberately withholding funds to the armed forces to make them ineffective and also crowning his diabolical scheme through the intended retrenchment of more than half of the members of the armed forces.

Other pointers that give credence to his desire to become a life president against the wishes of the people are:

(1) His appointment of himself as a minister of defense, his putting under his direct control the SSS, his deliberate manipulation of the transition programme, his introduction of inconceivable, unrealistic and impossible political options, his recent fraternization with other African leaders that have installed themselves as life presidents and his dogged determination to create a secret force called the national guard, independent of the armed forces and the police which will be answerable to himself alone, both operationally and administrativel­­y.

It is our strong view that this kind of dictatorial desire of Babangida is unacceptable to Nigerians of the 1990’s, and, therefore, must be resisted by all.

Another major reason for the change is the need to stop intrigues, domination and internal colonization of the Nigerian state by the so-called chosen few. This, in our view, has been and is still responsible for 90 percent of the problems of Nigerians.

This indeed has been the major clog in our wheel of progress.

This clique has an unabated penchant for domination and unrivalled fostering of mediocrity and outright detest for accountability,­­ all put together have been our undoing as a nation.

This will ever remain our threat if not checked immediately. It is strongly believed that without the intrigues perpetrated by this clique and misrule, Nigeria will have in all ways achieved developmental virtues comparable to those in Korea, Taiwan, Brazil, India, and even Japan.

Evidence, therefore, this cancerous dominance has as a factor constituted by a major and unpardonable clog in the wheel of progress of the Nigerian state. It is suffice to mention a few distasteful intrigues engineered by this group of Nigerians in recent past. These are:

(1) The shabby and dishonorable treatment meted on the longest serving Nigerian general in the person of General Domkat Bali, who in actual fact had given credibility to the Babangida administration.

(2) The wholesale hijacking of Babangida’s administration by the all-powerful clique.

(3) The disgraceful and inexplicable removal of Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, Professor Tam David-West, Mr. Aret Adams and so on from office.

(4) The now-pervasive and on-going retrenchment of Middle Belt and southerners from public offices and their instant replacement by the favoured class and their stooges.

(5) The deliberate disruption of the educational culture and retarding its place to suit the favoured class to the detriment of other educational minded parts of this country.

(6) The deliberate impoverishment of the peoples from the Middle Belt and the south, making them working ghosts and feeding on the formulae of 0-1-1- or 0-0-0 while the aristocratic class and their stooges are living in absolute affluence on a daily basis without working for it.

(7) Other countless examples of the exploitative, oppressive, dirty games of intrigues of its class, where people and stooges that can best be described by the fact that even though they contribute very little economically to the well-being of Nigeria, they have over the years served and presided over the supposedly national wealth derived in the main from the Middle Belt and the southern part of this country, while the people from these parts of the country have been completely deprived from benefiting from the resources given to them by God.

(8) The third reason for the change is the need to lay a strong egalitarian foundation for the real democratic take off of the Nigerian state or states as they circumstances may dictate.

In the light of all the above and in recognition of the negativeness of the aforementioned aristocratic factor, the overall progress of the Nigerian state a temporary decision to excise the following states namely, Sokoto, Borno, Katsina, Kano and Bauchi states from the Federal Republic of Nigeria comes into effect immediately until the following conditions are met.

The conditions to be met to necessitate the re-absorption of the aforementioned states are as following:

(a) To install the rightful heir to the Sultanate, Alhaji Maccido, who is the people’s choice.

(b) To send a delegation led by the real and recognized Sultan Alhaji Maccido to the federal government to vouch that the feudalistic and aristocratic quest for domination and operation will be a thing of the past and will never be practiced in any part of the Nigeria state.

By the same token, all citizens of the five states already mentioned are temporarily suspended from all public and private offices in Middle Belt and southern parts of this country until the mentioned conditions above are met.

They are also required to move back to their various states within one week from today. They will, however, be allowed to return and joint the Federal Republic of Nigeria when the stipulated conditions are met.

In the same vein, all citizens of the Middle Belt and the south are required to come back to their various states pending when the so-called all-in-all Nigerians meet the conditions that will ensure a united Nigeria. A word is enough for the wise.

This exercise will not be complete without purging corrupt public officials and recovering their ill-gotten wealth, since the days of the oil boom till date. Even in these hard times, when Nigerians are dying from hunger, trekking many miles to work for lack of transportation,­­ a few other Nigerians with complete impunity are living in unbelievable affluence both inside and outside the country.

We are extremely determined to recover all ill-gotten wealth back to the public treasury for the use of the masses of our people. You are all advised to remain calm as there is no cause for alarm. We are fully in control of the situation as directed by God. All airports, seaports and borders are closed forthwith.

The former Armed Forces Ruling Council is now disbanded and replaced with National Ruling Council to be chaired by the head of state with other members being a civilian vice-head of state, service chiefs, inspector general of police, one representative each from NLC, NUJ, NBA, and NANS.

A curfew is hereby imposed from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. until further notice. All members of the armed forces and the police forces are hereby confined to their respective barracks.

All unlawful and criminal acts by those attempting to cause chaos will be ruthlessly crushed. Be warned as we are prepared at all costs to defend the new order.

All radio stations are hereby advised to hook on permanently to the national network programme until further notice.

Long live all true patriots of this great country of ours. May God and Allah through his bountiful mercies bless us all”.
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