Benue Investment and Property Company: How Former Governor Suswam, Wife looted State Treasury

imageimageOn the eve of the handover of government from Gov. Gabriel Suswam to Dr. Samuel Ortom, the outgoing governor had revealed that his administration was leaving behind a debt of Nine billion Naira. However what the governor failed to add was the monumental rot in the state owned establishments .

Investigations have revealed that one of such companies used as a cash cow by the Suswam administration where rackets costing over a billion Naira have been exposed.

The Benue Investment and Property Company ( BIPC ) is the state investment management company vested with three obligations, Management of State government owned shares; promotion of industrial and commercial activities and management of some of the state government owned houses and lands.

BIPC as it is called came into limelight recently when the Company sold close to 10billion Naira worth of Dangote Cement shares, which had been managed by the company for decades.

It was gathered that until very recently the former governor of Benue State has denied knowledge of the sale and has repeatedly feign ignorance of the corrupt and illegal transaction.

At the BIPC Commissioning, the former governor Suswam said he was being criticized for authorizing the sale, however it was from the proceeds of the sale that BIPC was undertaking its projects. Per Second News investigations have revealed that:

1) The company is run under a water tight arrangement for fear that the activities of the former governor, Board of directors, and management staff will be exposed.

2) Sensitive areas of the Company are being manned by the governor’s cronies to ensure information is not leaked as a former acting managing Director is said to have sued the Company and government using certain leaked documents against the administration in court.

3) After the sale, the Company was denied any part of the proceeds as funds to reinvest. The funds were given straight to the State government and shared amongst the board of Directors and certain management staff. All projects embarked upon are funded by internally generated funds.

4) BIPC has started certain projects most of which are merely conduit pipes for siphoning the Company’s funds by two members of the Management staff and the Board of directors. The phony projects include the development of the BIPC/Allview estate at Mabushi Abuja, the construction and development of the Karu estate, the building of a fence at Filandabo, a fence at the BIPC High Level Guest House etc. All these projects have been instituted to benefit largely, the individuals and not the Company.

Allview Nig. Ltd , a property development company that protects the interests of the former first lady of Benue state Arch Deaconess Yemisi Dooshima Suswam was contracted to provide funds while BIPC provides the land.

Interestingly Per Second News stumbled on a catch- the sharing formula of proceeds and the value of the land which was done to benefit the first lady,with funds meant for logistics used by the Company going to the pockets of a select few.

Design Stages LTD, the contractor in charge of the construction of the estate in Karu and the BIPC hotel and event center North Bank was specially and carefully selected by the Board of Directors to their benefit. Design Stages is said to have been given a cheque of about N250 million to kick start work and close to N400 million Naira is said to have been expended on the BIPC hotel and event center which should house 27 rooms only.

The Managing Director CEO of Design Stages LTD, according to Per Second News findings is the Architect that designed and constructed a magnificent house for Omadachi Okolobia the immediate past Commissioner of Finance, as appreciation. The Contractor is involved in huge graft scandal over kick backs to the Brig. Gen. Atom kpera led Board for the contracts given to his Company.

Investigations have also revealed that tens of millions of Naira have been used to construct fences around BIPC properties in Makurdi and Abuja i.e Filindabo District at 30 million Naira and Industrial layout 10 Million Naira.

According to a source in the know, these fences are not merely for security but the funds used are inflated to service greedy board members and top Management staff. The source fails to understand why a profit oriented Company will use funds that can be used for investment purposes when it is cheaper to erect large sign posts as caveat emptors.

Even though the Company has in its employ lawyers and Architects, it contracts out signing of deeds for tens of millions and Architectural designs for same figure. In a document seen by Per Second News, N25 million was paid for the design of Karu Estate and shopping mall.

These contracts are carried out by people trusted to give returns to the top management staff and Board of Directors.

The Managing Director, Mrs. Awade Sheidu and Company Secretary, Bar. John Tyokegh, turned the company into an ATM machine where they made daily withdrawals.

Until very recently it was the Company secretary that acted as the purchasing officer for the Company, he purchased everything for the Company and its subsidiaries including the BIPC oil and gas that was his major money spinner, he purchased PMS, Gas and other petroleum products at exorbitant rates.

He is said to have purchased the trucks for the oil and gas at close to 30 Million Naira each when the actual costs plus construction of the tanker buckets is said to be at less than 12 Million Naira.

The Managing Director is said to have knowledge of the Company Secretary’s activities but encourages him as he is a crony of the immediate past Governor. The Company Secretary, is said to have prehanded knowledge of what fate will befall them on assumption of the new government and is said to be shamelessly trying to penetrate the APC as a major stakeholder at Ukum.

Surprisingly, it was gathered that the Company Secretary periodically carries out purchases at the Benue state guest house in Kaduna, which according to a top civil servant in the state is questionable if purchasing is one of his schedules of duty. Further investigations also reveal that the Managing Director uses her direct siblings/ personal friends to garner contracts such as printing, maintenance and supplies.

Funds from BIPC were heavily used to finance political adventures as investigations reveal that the Managing Director was a heavy sponsor of the Tarzoor Campaign.

BIPC office was used and abused indiscrimmnately, as it was used as a meeting venue for PDP meetings. A day before the gubernatorial elections a meeting of the PDP top notchers in Ukum met in BIPC to fine tune their strategies, which included the house of assembly member from Ukum, Paul Biam, Richard Gbande and several heads of Parastatals, several party stalwarts. Uptil date the company is one of the financiers of the Tarzoor lagal battle as the Managing Director is known to have openly boasted to ensure the case ends in favour of “her brother”, Terhemen Tarzoor.

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