By Our Reporter
Director General of the Cross River State Rural Development Agency, Ntufam Okon Nyong Owuna, has been dragged before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly diverting a total of N1.150 billion of funds meant for the State Government for his private use.
Others indicted in the petition are the Director of Finance, Akamkpa Local Government Area, Mrs. Anwudua Richard Efa as well as the Head of the Council all of whom were said to have pocketed another N60 million meant for the Council to their private pockets.
The petition which was addressed to the Chairman of the Commission, Ibrahim Magu and received on April 4th was written in line with the Federal Government’s whistle blower policy.
According to the petition, Mr. Owuna who is an employee of the State Government and current Chairman, Security Committee, Akamkpa Local Government Area, had on June 4th, 2014, registered a company, Flourishing Vine Unique Services Limited as revenue agent to the Cross River State Board of Internal Revenue to keep check and record of monies collected on behalf of the Government as well as ensuring total compliance of truck drivers to the over 20 quarry companies operating in Akamkpa Local Government Area of the State some of which include; Saturn Quarry, Xin-Xin Quarry, Ding Zheng Quarry and Fuhua Quarry.
The petitioner however, alleged that, Owuna hijacked the system by attaching his staff to each of the companies who he instructed to collect these Government funds from truck drivers and issue them receipt with the company’s Head of Operation, Dominic Omin and Ebri Uduma as link between the companies and Owuna.
Based on the petition which has been lingering with the EFCC for the past three months, a group under the aegis of Concerned Cross River Indigenes, is asking the Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade to investigate the allegation adding that it believes that such investigation will shed light on the activities of Owuna, Flourishing Vine Unique Services Ltd., and all those found culpable in the fund diversion.
The letter which was signed by the group’s Chairman, Engr. Ayamba Ntui disclosed that available documents from the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, revealed that the Secretary to Flourishing Vine Unique Services Limited is the wife of Mr. Owuna, while all four Directors are his children.
The group in the letter, said: “On behalf of the good people of Cross River State, we are constrained to write you this open letter in a bid to draw your attention on the activities of an individual in the State particularly within your administration to scuttle your good intention towards developing our dear Cross River State.
“Unfortunately, our findings have revealed that Flourishing Vine Unique Services Limited which got its contract as a revenue agent from the Cross River State Board of Internal Revenue in December 2016 and is suppose to get 15 percent of monies paid to the coffers of the State Government as a result of its compliance enforcement by truckers of the quarry companies, has made itself a cash collection company and diverted such monies into its private pocket.
“These monies as required by the terms of the contract are expected to be paid directly to the State Government and not Ntufam Okon Nyong Owuna as our findings have revealed.
“Available records at our disposal also reveal that Flourishing Vine/Ntufam Okon Nyong Owuna has so far collected the sum of N1.150 billion from these companies in cash and materials (products) while directing staff of the company on a daily basis to these quarry companies to collect revenues till date.
“In all of these monies collected, Flourishing Vine/Ntufam Okon Nyong Owuna probably out of benevolence to the Cross River State Government, on April 21, 2018, remitted only a paltry N1, 867, 600 as revenue accrued to the State Government.”
On how the monies where collected, the group said: “These payments and several others were reflected in two separate receipts including the authentic Cross River State authorized receipt and a forged Cross River State receipt made by Ntufam Okon Nyong Owuna for payments which weren’t remitted as monies collected into the coffers of the State Government as required by law.
“Aside the non-remission of monies, it is also on record that Ntufam Okon Nyong Owuna collected products running into millions of naira in place of funds meant to be paid into the coffers of the State Government from Saturn Quarry which were deducted at source by the companies.
“It should also be on record that, irked by the illicit financial activities of Flourishing Vine/Ntufam Okon Nyong Owuna, the company and its directors have been dragged before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), for investigation where some of these discoveries have already been uncovered.
“Also, in his line of defence, the Head of Operations for the company, Mr. Dominic Omins, had claimed to have received a total of N138, 777, 751 in his two separate personal accounts which were paid to Flourishing Vine/Ntufam Okon Nyong Owuna through the company’s Head of Finance, Ebri Okobe and Cashier staff, Amina Phillip and Fredrick Aggrey under the verbal and written instruction of Ntufam Okon Nyong Owuna while bulk of the monies where collected by him in cash.
“This investigation led to the discovery of N1.150 billion of monies accrued to the Cross River State Board of Internal Revenue diverted into Ntufam Okon Nyong Owuna’s private pocket while another N60 million meant to be remitted to the Akamkpa Local Government Council in the last one year of operation (March 2018-February 2019), was also shared among the Director General of the Cross River Rural Development Agency, Ntufam Okon Nyong Owuna, Director of Finance, Anwudua Richard Efa and Head, Akamkpa Local Government Council.”
However, effort to reach Mr. Owuna for comment on the allegation was fruitless as at the time of this report while Mrs. Efa said, “I’m a Civil Servant, I’m not supposed to be talking to you, I’ve done nothing wrong, let the petition be there.”