An Abuja-based businesswoman and financial consultant, Dr. Jackie Ikeotuonye, has accused Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State of threatening her life and therefore requested protection from Inspector General of Police (IGP) Usman Baba.
She said the call has become necessary because she has temporarily abandoned her residence as she believed some unknown faces were stalking her. She said that her life was not safe.
Jackie, daughter of the late legal luminary, Chief ABC Ikeotuonye SAN and Chief Executive Officer of Andrew Bishopton Limited, Abuja, said she is not safe since her company and partner took the Ebonyi Government to court for the failure of the government to pay her the agreed fees.
Dr. Ikeotuonye said the Ebonyi State Government engaged her company, Andrew Bishopton Limited, and partner, Mauritz Walton Nigeria Limited, to recover money wrongly deducted by the federal government on foreign loans from the state government between 1995 and 2002.
“Andrew Bishopton Limited and partners were appointed by the Ebonyi State government as a consultant to recover excess deductions/charges on foreign/local loan facilities and other hanging funds on behalf of Ebonyi State via a letter dated 6th October 2015 and signed by the then Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development, Dr Dennis UdeEkumankama.”
This appointment, according to Dr. Ikeotuonye, was followed by a consultancy services agreement signed between the State and Andrew Bishopton on 17th November 2015 where it was stated that the State would pay the company 25% of the sum reconciled, recovered, and paid into the account of the State by the Federal Government.
The State government, she added, went further to introduce Andrew Bishopton to the relevant government agencies Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Debt Management Office (DMO), and the Federal Ministry of Finance (FMoF) as contained in the agreement to enable us to have access to the relevant departments and information during the course of the assignment a letter dated…
“The assignment commenced in earnest, without any form of financial mobilisation or upfront payment from the State. During the first meeting, the Governor made it clear through his commissioner for finance that he was not going to mobilise us for the job.
“The company had to seek other avenues to finance the assignment. And this led to the joint partnership with Dr. Mauruis Ibe of Mauritz Walton Nigeria Limited, who bore the bulk of the expenses incurred during the assignment. As the assignment progressed, reports were submitted to the State.
At the completion of the assignment, the company sent another letter dated February 9th, 2016, to the Debt Management Office to update them on the progress of work done and the outcome of the work done on behalf of Ebonyi State.
“The DMO, in a letter dated August 01, 2016, requested the State to attach all relevant documents to back up their demand for a refund. All these documents were duly provided to the State by my company.
“Meanwhile, on completion of the assignment, the Governor sent in two demand letters to the Minister of Finance for the repatriation of the reconciled amount of $119, 419,427.59 being over deductions on account of Ebonyi State Government Foreign loans service. Another letter was also sent to the Director General, Debt Management Office.”
Ikeotuonye, in the petition, emphasised that the total sum of $119,419,427.59 was recovered by her company and partners for the state government, noting that the Ebonyi State government defaulted in the payment of the consultancy fees agreed between the state government and the consultants, which prompted the companies to drag the state government to court.
Andrew Bishopton Limited’s boss said immediately after the first tranche of the money was paid to the Ebonyi State government, the State government sent in “their so-called letter of disengagement by quoting we never did any work since the appointment was given. They also quoted a letter from DMO telling them they do not work with individual consultants.
“The Governor specifically mentioned in his demand letters that what he was asking for was premised on the report submitted by Andrew Bishopton Limited. Yet, they claimed we did nothing. It might interest you to know that Ebonyi State sadly has an antecedent for disengaging consultants at the point of payment for services.
“The first tranche of payment made to the State was N8, 385, 035,086.72 based on the Governor’s forum payment schedule. We then sent in a demand for our fees of N2, 096, 258, 771. 68 in a letter dated December 11th, 2016 because we noticed that the State reneged on the agreement to provide an irrevocable standing order conveying 25% of all money recovered by the consultant and have the fund domiciled in the then Skye Bank.
“But after the decision was made to pay 5%, we sent in another request. The Governor, through Dr. Ekumankama, ‘agreed’ to pay N400, 000,000:00; then it was reduced to N200,000,000:00, then N100,000, 000:00, after which we never heard from them again.”
“When some governors intervened, and the Ebonyi State government agreed to pay us N50,000,000.00, which was never paid hence we had no option but to approach the court, which gave judgment in our favour and further freeze the state governments bank accounts,” Ikeotuonye narrated.
Miffed by this, on the 31st of August 2022, armed men numbering about 10 in number from both Ebonyi Police Command and Garki Police Station “stormed my house at Brains and Hammers Estate in Apo Abuja, with a warrant of arrest purportedly from a magistrate court in Ebonyi that I was under arrest for defrauding the Ebonyi State Government to the tune of N50m.”
She said she was to sign some documents under duress to vacate the Federal High Court judgment in Port Harcourt. “Since then, Governor Umahi has been after me. Instead of paying me for the services I rendered as agreed, the Governor is hounding me.”
When contacted, the Special Assistant to Ebonyi State Governor on Media and Strategy, Chooks Oko, said that the police are handling the issue and the garnishee order vacated, “that’s why I was surprised by your request.”