Amidst the backdrop of Anambra State Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo’s fervent call for a synergistic alliance between individuals, communities, and the government through the innovative PPCP (Public Private Community Partnership) to propel the developmental trajectory of rural areas, a disconcerting narrative unfolds in Enugwu-Ukwu community, Njikoka Local Government Area of the State.
Allegations surface as perturbed locals, driven by a shared concern for their community’s progress, point accusing fingers at the Deputy Chairman of the Local Government, Mr. Christian Ezenwaka. The ire of these Enugwu-Ukwu indigenes is directed at the purported sabotage of endeavours initiated by Amb. Benjamin Emoka, a community member residing abroad, who shows a burning concern to enhance the infrastructural facelift of the community through road and drainage construction. The disillusioned voices echo dissatisfaction, as funds being sent by the Holland Netherlands-based philanthropist, Emoka, purportedly vanish into the hands of Ezenwaka, the Deputy Chairman, leaving the community bereft of the anticipated tangible outcomes.
This did not only constitute worry to the concerned indigenes of the community, but also attracted newsmen, who visited and toured the community to see things for themselves.
Speaking to newsmen on behalf of others, one of the concerned citizens of Enugwu-Ukwu, who pleaded anonymity, said the philanthropist got the approval since 2019 to construct the community roads and drainages he intended to.
His words: “For now, I will not like to mention my name, but I’m aware of this problem. Our brother, Benjamin Emoka, who lives in Holland obtained permission from the local government to construct two roads with drainages. One is Senior Prophet Simon Emoka Avenue, and another one is Benjamin Emoka Avenue.
“Just so that you will understand this very well, Senior Prophet Simon Emoka is the father of Benjamin Emoka. Simon Emoka is late. His son, Benjamin Emoka who lives in Holland secured approval from the local government for one road in Adagbe Avomini village in Enugwu-Ukwu, to be named after his father, Senior Prophet Simon Emoka, and another one to be named after himself, Benjamin Emoka. He got the approval since 2019.
“So recently, he applied to the Local Government Chairman to construct drainages and also construct both roads, and he was given approval. He was using the Deputy Mayor (Deputy Chairman), Christian Ezenwaka to carry out the job, but from the look of things, they have defrauded him. Even the little drainage and culverts that they managed to do was a completely shoddy job. You can see it yourself.
“Our unhappiness is that Benjamin Emoka who lives in Holland and has sworn to ensure that our hometown is as good as what he is seeing overseas where he lives, has been defrauded to the level that he has sworn not to get involved any longer in community work. We are calling on our Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo to call his aides in the local government area to order, and also sanction them.
“I wonder why our Governor would be calling on the people to bring home their investment and help develop our state; and some people in government will be defrauding those who genuinely want to help the Governor to develop the state.”
Howbeit, it was gathered that there are other issues frustrating developmental efforts and projects initiated by Benjamin Emoka. According to a voice note obtained by The Razor Newspaper, Emoka was heard expressing his disechantment, while also presenting the various bank receipts of transfers of money he made to Ezenwaka for the job.
In the voice note, Emoka lamented that despite securing a permit from the local government council allocating one of the roads in the community as Senior Prophet Simon Emoka Avenue, and another request to construct the road, and despite the huge sum of money he transfered to Ezenwaka at different occasions for the drainage, but lamented that he was only scammed.
He said: “After I demanded to see a video of the project he was constructing for me, for which I had paid over five million naira, Ezenwaka became furious.
“Meanwhile, despite that, I decided to use another source to continue the work, but what Ezenwaka did was to bring a different set of people, flag off the road in their name as the ones constructing the road, and now built a monument at the entrance of the road, renaming it as Akunetigbuilo Avenue.
“He later came to me again after I got winds of information that some people built a monument there, and told me that the local government has approved for the structure to be brought down. He collected N1.3million from me as the amount to be used to bring down the structure, but after I paid him, he stopped taking my call, and the structure is still there till today. This is injustice, and I will not allow it to be. He must account for every money I gave him, including bringing down the structure, which I had already paid for,” Emoka lamented in the voice notes.
When the newsmen inspected the drainages constructed along Benjamin Emoka Avenue, it was found to be very substandard. Besides the drainage being crocked, it was also found to be shallow and very narrow. Some of the materials for the construction that should have been iron rods, where mere metal nets.
When contacted by newsmen for his reaction to the allegations against him, Hon. Ezenwaka debunked everything as falsehood meant to bring down his reputation.
His words: “This matter started in 2018, it is a long story. If you like you can go to the site to see the culverts that we did.
“We have the details of everything, how we bought the materials. Where we packed the materials we bought was even in Benjamin Emoka’s house, and he is aware. When we were doing this projects, he looked at how the work was going, the materials we had left and the money remaining, and nobody asked him and he brought more 50 bags of cement.
“After that, nobody asked him again and he gave us 20 bags again. When all these things were happening, those people who are briefing you were not there. After the job, we gave him details and said ‘see what we estimated, see what we have, the job cannot continue’. We are friends. I told him what it will take to complete the job, and he said I should borrow to complete the job, and I said no, that I can’t do that; and the next day he blocked me on the phone.
“I’m telling you this because my suit is coming. All the character assassination and all the things they said and wrote against me, I have documented all this things, and I’m preparing my suit, and I will sue them.”
On the renaming of the Senior Prophet Simon Emoka Avenue to Akunetigbuilo Avenue, and also the allegation of the construction of the road by a separate individual in the community, Ezenwaka said that the Senior Prophet Simon Emoka Avenue still remains, insisting that the the Akunetigbuilo is rather the name of the district, which contains several avenues, including Senior Prophet Simon Emoka Avenue, and not an avenue to replace the one awarded to Benjamin Emoka in honour of his late father.
He said: “Akunetigbuilo District is not part of what Benjamin Emoka is doing. The only thing he said he would do was to drop 10 tons of chippings on the road, and nothing more.
“He did that and we gave him the rundown of how we spent the money, and he said I should go and borrow to complete the job, but I said no, we cannot do that, you’re in faraway Holland and I don’t know how I can pay if I go and borrow money to do it. He got annoyed and blocked me.
“The only offense I committed was that the Chairman of the Local Government asked me to join some people to go for the flag off of a road (Akunetigbuilo District), and some people saw me there, took pictures and sent to him, and he said I was compromised and he blocked me.
“As for the Senior Prophet Simon Emoka Avenue, it still remains. What I can tell you is that this Akunetigbuilo people and Benjamin Emoka are related. They have been having series of problems and their case has even gone to Abuja. I was even the one following the case. I have also advised Benjamin Emoka about this many times because we are friends. We have engaged them before and said we want to make peace between you people.
“What the local government did was to give Akunetigbuilo a district, Adagbe Avomini is now turned to Akunetigbuilo District. From the district, you can get lane, avenue and crescent.
“There is a certificate given to Akunetigbuilo District. There is no case in this thing, they are just looking for one where there is none,” he concluded.