A Senior Staff of the Imo State Ministry of Works,Owerri has been accused of instigating continued harassment in an attempt to extort money from management of a popular hotel in Owerri.
In a recent letter from Ministry of Works, purported to have emanated from the Commissioner for Works but which was signed by one Engr Ogbuka CE,addressed to the Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director of the hotel said to be located close to the State Secretariat, the management of the hotel was accused by the said Ogbuka of blocking access road to other users and harassing one Mr Bobby Dick who later turned out to be faceless and such claim unfounded.
According to a top management staff of the hotel who doesn’t want his name in prints, the initiator of the purported letter dated 4th May 2020, when he was director of Works in the Ministry had approached the management of the hotel for a contract deal to tar the access road leading to the hotel based on certain amount of money but the management turned him down.
This,according to the source, the management considered as cutting corners and had preferred to hire a reputable construction company for the job.”Thereafter,the said Ogbuka who was director of works all through ex-governor Rochas Okorocha’s 8 years in the office that was characterized as era of “China Roads” came up with an outrageous demand in form of bribe but could not succeed”,he stated.
However, when he was subsequently elevated as acting Permanent Secretary of the same Ministry of Works, he initiated threats and harassments on the management of the hotel on the issue bordering on use of same access road he allegedly demanded huge sum of money for as bribe.
Meanwhile,it is said that the State Commissioner for Works,Barr Ralph Nwosu is totally unaware of what is happening between the owners of the hotel and the Ministry but his name is used for the intimidation.
In a reply to the Ministry’s letter which was leaked to our reporter, “Re: Insecurity, harassment and hostility by the Hotel behind Central Bank building behind the State Secretariat Road in New Owerri, on one Prince Bobby Dick”, signed by the legal Adviser to the hotel, A.I Nwachukwu Esq, he stated that the Ministry in their letter to the hotel Managing Director was acting on hear say and issued threats.
The solicitor inferred that the era of impunity in Imo State had died with the erstwhile government.The Lawyer observed that the letter tends to condemn the hotel owners without any hearing which runs counter to the policy of the present administration in Imo State and also demands that if any reports had been lodged against the hotel to the Ministry authorities, the proper thing to do was to hear from them and not to portray the hotel management in bad light.
The letter dated May 11, 2020 and signed by Barr A.I Nwachukwu warned against incessant harassment, hostility and aggression meted out to the Hotel at New Owerri, as this is tantamount to scaring away genuine investors in the state.
In the letter which states inter-alia, “our client therefore demands that if any report or complaint is made against him by anybody for that matter, he is entitled to be heard before any conclusion can be reached by your office. Suffice it to state that our client did not block any access to the street to inhabitants of that area as falsely stated in your letter.
We therefore hope that your office will do the proper thing in this circumstance and not to take actions and reach conclusions that will tarnish the image of the government or its officials”.
Speaking with a senior staff of the Ministry who also doesnt want to be quoted,he said,”while it is expected that this advice will be taken seriously, the resort to using government might to frustrate private investments in the state by overzealous civil servants and their proxies is doing more harm to the economy of the state”.
When contacted, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Works,Ogbuka owned up to the letter but stated that it was at the instance of the commissioner.According to him,it was in reply to the petition he wrote to the hotel.
To worsen the situation,Ogbuka outrightly refused the management of the hotel access to the said petition.