Series of allegations have trailed the Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce being head by Edo State Attorney General, Prof Yinka Omoregbe.
A few sources asserted that Libya returnees in the state had created income for some government authorities who supplanted names of the returnees with obscure people during the rehabilitation training organized for them in Ibadan.
NAIJA CENTER NEWS investigation uncovered that many of the returnees had not been contacted for training after their arrival in Lagos.
The Initial accusation was that Prof. Omoregbe approved the production of 3000 Id cards for N7.4 million without due process. Others argued that there was no importance attached to the IDs.
Speaking with NAIJA CENTER NEWS, In what seems to be a hostile tone, the Edo AG said N7.4m wasn’t money unless in the eyes of an ignoramus.
She debunked the report that the contract was awarded to a Lagos based company.
“7.4 million naira has never been a whopping sum, and that is the truth of the matter. The ID card is for 3000 people, and it cost 1500 per ID and what is the working sum that was involved?
“If you do your arithmetic, you will see that 1500 per ID is not much, and every single ID card was delivered.
“It is an Edo company, and it is absolutely above board. 7.4m is not money, please, unless ignoramus is involved.”
It was revealed that Bar. Abraham Oviawe, member representing civil society, in the administration of Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee of Edo state, was subjected to a witch hunt for raising the alarm and questioning the alleged illicit financial affair by Yinka.
Oviawe reportedly probed why the government spent 7.4 million to acquire identity card for 3000 returnees victims of human trafficking at an individual cost of 1500.
Prof Yinka fired the Director of Finance and Accounts (DFA) of the task force Christopher Ogbomo after the inner workings relating to alleged financial misappropriation started leaking to the public.
Another member of the task force who received the hammer for not keeping his mouth shut was the SSA, Comrade Solomon Okoduwa.
After several queries, Prof Yinka sent one of her lawyers, Lilian Garuba to provide this network with whatever document to buttress her claims of innocence. Surprisingly, Barrister Garuba disappeared and blocked this correspondent after being asked about the replacement of Libya returnees in the last training.
Edo State government in collaboration with the Niger Delta Ministry and Senator (Pharm.) Matthew A. Urhoghide (FPSN, FNAPharm.), Chairman, Senate Public Accounts Committee decided to rehabilitate Libyan returnees in a fight against human trafficking in the state.
A total of over 200 participants were trained which number was made up of 148 invited returnees from Libya who are either indigent of or reside in Edo South Senatorial District (96 of this number were trained at the Polytechnic, Ibadan) and 52 youths and women in Edo South Senatorial District (who were trained in Benin along with 52 invited Libyan returnees to make a total of 200 trainees)
The last of the training was concluded on May 17, 2019, and trainees were each given N300,000 (N28,800,000 for 96 returnees) to start farming in the field they trained in.
In the two-week-long training exercise, participants were fed twice daily; provided hotel accommodation and given N3,000 daily to meet some of their needs. Transportation fares to and from the venues were also given to the trainees at the venues.
However, NAIJA CENTER NEWS gathered that out of the 96 returnees at the Polytechnic, Ibadan; only 14 were the actual Libyan returnees who received the N300,000 each (N4, 200,000), the remaining 82 were replaced by the government officials, meaning N24,600,000 were paid to cronies of the officials.
We were not contacted but our names were on the list, says Libyan returnees
Our correspondent spoke with some of the Libyan returnees whose names appeared on the list at the Ibadan Polytechnic; they confirmed that they knew of the training but were never invited even though the government have a database of their contacts.
According to one of the returnees who identified himself as Toney, “I was not invited, but I was aware that the program was going on. My name was among the list, but they played politics and used their people to replace my name.
“I also knew that many people that attended were not Libyan returnees; they placed their people name.
When asked whether he contacted the Taskforce to query the fraud, he said “I couldn’t contact the government because we can’t just call the government to ask such questions, so I decided to forget about it. The government have my address, and everything was written when we arrived in Lagos. For now, I am unemployed.”
Another returnee who identified herself as Rose said she was not invited for the program. She also claimed her contacts were with the government. She however said she has been working with the Taskforce to sensitize the public on the danger of trafficking.
She has been taken to Abuja and different parts of Edo State and at the end of every activities, she was given N8,000 in total.
Rose also said her name was on the list of those who went for the training but she was never there because she was never invited, plus, she didn’t receive the N300,000.
In addition to using her name to siphon money, the government has failed in the promises made personally to her.
She said “I have not been given anything. I was not invited for the program, but I heard that my name was among the list that attended. When i called to find out, they told me that the program was only for people with the result, I don’t know which result.
“I am supposed to be one of the Ambassadors doing sensitization for the government. I have been to different locations, Abuja, parts of Benin, and whenever I attended, they gave me 3000, then another 5000.
“The governor promised to provide me with an accommodation, they enrolled me in a pioneer school, but I stopped now because I don’t have transport fare, and I am a mother of four, I do not have any source of income for my children and me.”
Investigation revealed that there are many Toney and Rose out there who have never been contacted but were recorded to have been a beneficiary of the training.
Senator Mathew Urhoghide Reacts
NAIJA CENTER NEWS also reached out to the Senator, Mathew Urhoghide who thought otherwise. According to the Senator, Prof. Yinka is a woman of excellence and wouldn’t partake in any fraudulent activities, if any.
The Senator said he was informed during the training that 20 of the returnees did not attend and he instructed that the list should be replaced by unemployed youths from his district.
He lamented that many of the youths in the state are not ready to engage in credible activities as their focus are mainly to collect the money and return to the same situation they were rescued from.
“They were 200 in total. Everybody got the money before they left the place. The consultant who did the training in Ibadan did the same thing with the money.”
On whether the returnees were replaced, the Senator said “I told you, that’s not true. The list that went to Niger Delta Affairs came from Edo State government. When the Libyans returned, they had to be documented, and they have been helping them one way or the other.
“I called the governor, Godwin Obaseki, and told him I have an idea to rehabilitate Libyan returnees and he was delighted. I said they will be trained for two weeks, all of them will be housed, and will be paid feeding allowances and after that, will be paid N300,000. He was very excited and said he would inform the woman in charge, Prof. Yinka Omoregbe. I must tell you; the woman is a very credible woman. She called her office, who liaised with my people. They brought the names, and those were the names they brought to the ministry, but many of them did not turn up. They were told their transportation would be settled, but many of them did not attend.
“They called my own people, the people working with me, my aides, they complained that they were short of 20 youths and we got them 20 unemployed youth from Edo South Senatorial district to join them.
“Whether you are from Libyan or not, I have thousands of unemployed youths, and I have to come up with programs to train them.
“The state government did not handle the money; they only brought the list. If anyone did any planting, it could be the consultant who trained them in Ibadan but not the state government.
“I am not saying the consultant may have done this a 100 per cent full proof, but at least, our people who went there confirmed that they got the benefit. All of them were given brochures, their names and telephone numbers are there.”
When contacted, Mr Solomon Okoduwa SSA on anti-human trafficking and a member of the task force, said “I don’t know anything except the woman or her secretary Lilian Garubs or Abieyemwense Abieyuwa”
Inconclusive.. If you have any information regarding this investigation, please contact [email protected] or talk to Naija Center News on +447448113757