-Want him to apologize to Valentino
Youths of Okporo, in Orlu LGA of Imo state under the aegis of Udogadi Okporo Central youths have risen in defence of the Developer of Orie Okporo market and Chief Executive Officer of Valentino Da Vinci Nig, Ltd, Chief Valentino Ugballa, who they say the commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Hon Simon Ebegbulem is falsely accusing in the print, electronic and social media of using thugs to forcefully collect revenue from Orie Okporo market thereby igniting tension that led to the death of an unidentified victim that is yet to be buried.
The youths in a letter signed by Chidi Ukegbu and Okeke Chinedu, President and Secretary respectively, dated April 1, 2021, addressed to the Hon Commissioner, berated Hon Ebegbulem for making malicious, false and unfounded accusations against Chief Ugballa who according to them, is a gentle, honest and transparent personality who despite developing the entire Orie Okporo market in line with the specifications given to him by the Imo state government without any financial support or input from the latter that awarded the contract to his company, Valentino Da Vinci Nig Ltd, has never come to collect or send any person to collect revenue from Orie Okporo market onbehalf the company or Ugballa.
“It beats our imagination that a man who occupies such exalted position in government will resort to making false, frivolous and unfounded statement that has no iota of truth. Chief Valentino Chinedu Ugballa, an acclaimed philanthropist who has empowered many youths in various communities in the state and beyond, has at no come or sent any person to come and collect revenue in the market. The only people that come to collect money from the market on regular basis are staff/agents of the Imo State Ministry of Commerce and Industry, ISAMATA, the Market Master, Emmaunel Odidika and the youths of Udigadi Okporo Centre who were through a letter from our traditional ruler, HRH, Eze J.E. Odiri instructed to collect revenue from the market.”
They further said, “Udogadi Youths and the entire youths of Okporo have no problem with Valentino Da Vinci Nig Ltd and it’s C.E.O. We are happy and delighted with the excellent job the Developer has done at Orie Okporo market. He finished and mapped out the 20% compensation as stated in the agreement and also gave youths of the nine villages in Okporo some complimentary shops at no cost, a gesture we all appreciate”.
“Valentino Da Vinci Nig Ltd, is a reputable firm of international standard with a verifiable track record of excellent service delivery. The Chief Executive Officer, Chief (Sir) Valentino Ugballa (Ikuku-Oma) who has in different ways exhibited passion ad commitment to the welfare of the people should be allowed to recoup his return on investment as stated in the MOU and also affirmed by the court”.
Also attached to the letter written by the host community is a letter signed by Engr (Chief) Nwaogu S.N (MNSE) dated August 10, 2019, that authorized Chidi Ukaegbu to collect Internally Generated Revenue from Orie Okporo market, on behalf Okporo community and remit same to the President General (Head of Town Union).
“The source of revenue in the community include but not limited to levy, Sunday market, evening market, Trucks, retailers, cart pushers, Okada and Keke operators.”
Also attached are photocopies of demand notices signed by Emmanuel Odidika, as Market Master, requesting traders and shop owners to pay tenement / storage fees for their shops/stalls to his office or have their shops sealed.
One of the demand notices was dated October 15, 2020 while the other was dated July 22, 2020; alongside receipts issued by the ministry of commerce and industry acknowledging payments. Other documents attached include a letter signed by Hon Emmanuel Ezeanochie, President General of ISAMATA, dated 18th January, 2018, requesting Valentino Da Vinci Nig Ltd, to pay the sum of N5m as cost of Certificates of Occupancy for all the shops at Orie Okporo market.
The letter reads, “ this is to inform you that Imo state Amalgamated market and traders association (ISAMATA) is in-charge of collecting payment for shops in all markets in the state, including Orie Okporo market, including and will remit same into the Imo state government account for the processing of C of O. The total cost for the C of O of all the shops at Orie Okporo market is N5m, which, you as the Developer is advised to pay into ISAMATA, Orlu zone and Chatachi bank account number which will be forwarded to you in due course.”
The youths also attached photocopy of a letter written by Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN and Co, counsel to Valentino Da Vinci Nig Ltd, dated March 19, 2021.
The letter which was addressed to the commissioner for Trade and Industry, Simon Ebegbulem with the caption, “Re-judgment in suit No.HOR/2/2019 between Valentino Da Vinci Nig Ltd V Imo state government and 11 others, delivered by his Lordship, Hon Justice L.C. Azuama of High Court of Imo state in Orlu judicial Division.”
“Attempt to meddle with the said court judgment made in the above mentioned suit and the overriding consequences of competing with a valid and subsisting court judgment concerning Orie Okporo market, duely developed and managed by Valentino Da Vinci Nig Ltd.”
The counsel drew the attention of the Hon Commissioner to the fact that his client, Valentino was a plaintiff in the above named suit, where in the Imo state government was sued and represented as the first defendant in the said suit.
“Sequel to the above, the honorable court, in it’s magnanimity and wisdom, entered judgment in favour of Valentino Da Vinci Nig Ltd by relying on the terms of settlement dated and sgined on January 14, 2020”.
It would be recalled that contract for the construction and management of Orie Okporo market that was awarded to Valentino Da Vinci Nig Ltd, based on agreed terms as articulated in the Memoraudum of Understanding, has for some time, been the subject of several litigations after which courts of competent jurisdiction gave judgment in favour of Valentino Da Vinci based on what they referred to as substantive and incontrovertible evidence.
All these, the youths attested to the fact that, “ it is the market master and the ministry of commerce and industry under Simon Ebegbulem’s watch that have been colleting revenue from the market and not Chief Valentino who they accused the government of maligning and falsely accusing him for selfish reasons”.