From Umuahia, Abia State
Ward Coordinators of a Non Governmental Organization (NGO), the Civil Awareness and Economic Empowerment Initiative (CAEI) in Obingwa local Government area of Abia State have petitioned the National Secretariat of the group over alleged extortion by the LG Coordinator, Mr. Maduforo John.
In a petition signed by the Coordinators of the eleven wards of the local government, they accused John of collecting sundry which was not approved by the National Directorate of CAEI.
“Mr. Maduforo John , the LG Coordinator of the CAEI programme has turned the entire programme in to a money making outfit for himself when he introduced and imposed illegally unnecessary levies and same were paid to quickly by unsuspecting registered members believing that it was and from the National office,” the petition read in part.
The alleged illegal levies collected by Mr. John includes membership form levy of N1,400 each from the 3,000 members of the CAEI in the local government; collection of N20,000 admission fee from the LG Secretary, Manager (Projects and Programmes ); Manager (Bank and Loans) and Women for Child Abuse.
Others include the collection of N26, 000 from each of the eleven ward excos; State Coordinator’s knighthood levy of N33, 000; N297, 000 ID card money paid by 18 officers in all the wards, levy for the swearing in of unit officers which amounted to N1, 375,000 and N360, 000 collected from members appointed as revenue collectors.
They further accused Mr. John of collecting N5, 000 each from the 90 persons interviewed as teachers to be engaged by CAEI totaling N450, 000 and another N600, 000 for appointment letter from the 60 persons who paid for it.
According to the Coordinators of Wards 9 and 10, Mr. Uzoma Nwankwo and Elder Barnabas Nwachukwu, what aroused their curiosity was that Mr. John began the collection of ‘empowerment money’ of various items for members across the eleven wards.“He asked members to pay N26,000 as part payment for a tricycle costing N633,000; N10,200 for a CG125 Motorcycle at the cost of N183,600; N2,850 for a Grinding machine costing N51,300 and N1,500 for a sewing machine costing N27,000.
“When we made enquiries, we found out that the National office of CAEI did not authorize the collection of any levy as empowerment money. The sum of N732, 000 was collected by Mr. John as empowerment money, while a total of N9, 921,500 as the total money illegal collected from CAEI members in the area,” they alleged.
The Coordinator for Ward 5, Mr. Stanley C. Samuel further alleged that Mr. John illegally collected N1, 400 from as membership form from CAEI members in Obingwa LGA when their counterparts in other areas paid N700 which he claimed is the official fees authorized by the State office.
Another Coordinator in the council who simply gave his name as Ogbonna Ogbu called on the National Office of CAEI to commence the empowerment programme as they have been under pressure from members who they registered through them.
“We the Ward Coordinators are now in a difficult situation. Members who registered through us have since been disturbing us for their money. They have been made to pay several levies believing that the programme would commence soon, but to no avail. If the programme began as we were made to believe, I don’t think we have suffered the problem we are facing now,” he lamented.
A gathered that on the strength of the petition, Mr. John was last week arrested by operatives of the State Security Services (SSS) while attending a seminar organized by CAEI at Umuahia.
A source further hinted that the Secretary of CAEI IN Obingwa, Mr. Ndubuisi Uzoije, was mandated by the National Office to serve as the Acting Coordinator of CAEI in the area until the SSS concludes its investigations on the matter.
John failed to pick calls made to his mobile number; however one of his associates, who preferred anonymity, disclosed that he is currently liaising with the Ward Coordinators in the area to settle the matter.
The Acting LG Coordinator, Mr. Uzoije also refused to speak to our correspondent, insisting that he does not want to talk to the press as the matter is still being investigated by the SSS.