A petitioner, Mr. Dumriri Uweh, has alleged that the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa, representing Delta North senatorial district of Delta State, has defrauded him of N185 million.
It has been gathered that the allegation is already generating controversy among Okowa's political associates in his state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and is causing the senator sleepless nights.
In a petition sent to the Senate President David Mark, Mr. Uweh accused Senator Okowa of allegedly collecting N185 million on his behalf without remitting same to him.
A copy of the petition, titled “Complaint As Non Implementation Of Agreement,” was also sent to the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Bamaga Tukur; Chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih; the State Security Service (SSS) and the Political Adviser to the President, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak.
Uweh stated that Okowa played a mediatory role in the settlement of a political dispute between the former acting governor of Delta State and member representing Ika North East constituency in the state Assembly, Prince Sam Obi and himself (Uweh).
According to Uweh, “I contested against Prince Obi for the 2007 House of Assembly primaries for the Ika North East state constituency in which I defeated Prince Obi. Obi’s name was wrongfully and illegally substituted with my name and I had no option than to file a petition before the Election Petitions Tribunal. In the process of the legal battle, Obi was elected Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly and later Acting Governor of the state upon the nullification of the election of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan as governor in the last quarter of 2010.
“As soon as Obi was sworn in as acting governor, I was approached for an out-of-court settlement meeting in Abuja in order to allow for stability in the polity by the Obi of Owa in Ika North East Local Government and [rtd], Hon Justice S. A. Ehiwario, and some political leaders on behalf of Obi in the state when it was eminent that the case would swing in my favour where I was begged to withdraw my case against Obi but the issue was not resolved until the second meeting held in Grand Hotel Asaba, Delta State capital where Senator Ifeanyi Okowa served as the mediator on behalf of his friend, Obi, in attendance were the Owa monarch, Hon Justice S. A. Ehiwario (rtd), Jonathan Nnajiofor, my lawyer, Mr E. Azinge, SAN and his wife. Other people Obi sent earlier on were in attendance. It is of note that all the meetings were convened by Okowa.
“That very meeting resolved that Prince Sam Obi should pay me the sum of N200 million as my campaign expenses apart from being appointed a commissioner in the in-coming administration in the state from May 29, 2011. After that meeting, the sum of N15 million was subsequently paid into my Zenith Bank account at different intervals with different names through Senator Okowa and when asked he told me that he paid the money at different intervals to avoid embarrassment from the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) before he refused to deliver the balance of N185 million till date and all my discussion on this matter with Okowa was mostly through phones and can be printed out from MTN if denied.”
The petitioner lamented that the first breach of the agreement was his being dropped as a commissioner after serving for only six months in Obi's administration following the re-election of Governor Uduaghan.
“At the expiration of the time given, the balance of N185, 000, 000.00 (One hundred and eighty five million naira) was not paid, and all through phone calls proved abortive as Okowa refused to say anything or pick my calls, he was also avoiding me. I later started having strange visitors who called themselves 'killers' who said I should drop the matter.
“When I dragged Obi to EFCC on this matter, it was there and then Obi told me about the removal of my name as commissioner by Okowa and Obi still confirmed to me that he has since given the N185 million to Okowa as the mediator in the matter to be given to me.”
Uweh disclosed that the PDP leadership in the state and some prominent traditional rulers had intervened in the matter so that Okowa could pay him the money but all to no avail, instead he alleged that the federal lawmaker has been sending threat messages to him to drop the matter or lose his life.
When contacted, Okowa who is warming up for the 2015 Delta State governorship election, ignored all calls.