Ebonyi State government has condemned the circumstances that led to the disappearance of five engineers of the Nelan Company and called for a crackdown on the perpetrators.
Briefing journalists yesterday at the Old Executive Council Chambers, Government House, Abakaliki, the commissioner for information and state orientation, Barr. Uchenna Orji, decried the misrepresentation of facts over the unfortunate incident which led to the disappearance of Engr. Nelson Onyeme and four Engineers.
Orji described as misleading the information given by the wife of one of the engineers, Mrs. Nelson Onyeme, against the state government, adding that politicians had also taken advantage of the state of mind of the missing engineer’s wife.
He said, “We are also compelled to set the records straight on the utterances of one of the engineers of Nelan Company, Mr. Benjamin, who speaks from both sides of the mouth (telling the state government one thing and telling the public another thing) and who is extremely economical with the truth about our contractual relations with Nelan Company.”
He said contrary to comments credited to Engr. Benjamin Nzeagwu on the status of the Ring Road project and Nelan Consulting, the Abakaliki Ring Road is a project funded through a repayable loan from African Development Bank (AfDB) and not a grant and so the services of the firm were hired by the state government through international bidding processes.
Orji said the state government sees the utterances of Benjamin as malicious and mischievously calculated to attack the integrity of the Dave Umahi’s administration.
He said, “The statement of Mr Benjamin is not utterly factual, it is obviously fictitious, Ebonyi State government as an employer does not need extraneous assistance to determine the contract when it is not performing.”
The commissioner said the state government cannot be blackmailed to give up its monitoring powers as that had been the secret of the fiscal performance and developmental hallmarks recorded by the administration.
He said the state government and the personnel executing the contract were never contacted or informed about the coming of the officials of Nelan Consulting on the fateful day.
According to him, the state government held a meeting with all companies/contractors involved in the Abakaliki Ring Road Project over the security situation in a few points within the project locations, adding that Nelan Consulting is merely a supervising firm which job supervision commitment was going to be eight days per month in the whole of 24-month project duration.
“The resident engineer and main contractor being supervised by Nelan Consulting has never shown presence till this moment. All we gathered from the security report after the ugly incident was that it was the contractor, Marco Nigeria Ltd that had contacted Mr Nelson Onyeme to go to the site.”
He said that an immediate report from the Divisional Police Officer in charge of the area where the job is situated and the statement volunteered to the Police by the representative of Marco Nigeria Limited indicate that they all agreed to meet at Ohaukwu Local Government Police Headquarters so as to get the Police personnel to go with them to the site. But the Nelan officials did not avail.
Orji said Governor Umahi had met with all the contractors, consultants and stakeholders from the project locations, especially the flash points where it was agreed that before any contractor moves to the project site, the community leaders, traditional rulers, town union presidents.
He said the stakeholders with government officials from the area must swear an affidavit committing to the protection of the contractors and consultants.