Monday, November 20, 2023



By - freepressnews correspondent.    

Eze Chikamnayo has a history of involvement in scandal, theft, and fraud. He was appointed commissioner for information, tourism, and culture by Chief (Dr.) Orji Uzor Kalu, the former governor of Abia State. He is from the Umunneochi Local Government Area of the State, which is under Senator Uche Chukwumerije.

Being the only commissioner of information, tourism, and culture to leave office with two theft cases hanging over his head like a Damocles sword, Chikamnayo created history. Furthermore, it is said that the two theft occurrences occurred between September and November 2000, a period of three months. After looking into the two incidents, the Nigerian police accused Chikamnayo of stealing over N40 million in government funds from Abia State and filed the appropriate charges against him.

The state government Exco conclusion 1994 (3) of May 25, 1994 established the Ugwuabia Cultural Festival as an annual state festival with the goal of showcasing and celebrating the diversity and richness of Abia arts and culture. This was one of the two theft cases involving the alleged theft of N35 million. The Ugwuabia Festival also facilitates the achievement of the goals of the National Cultural Policy, which requires each state in the federation to establish a State Cultural Festival of Arts and Culture and to take part in the yearly National Festival of Arts and Culture, or NAFEST, among other things. The state is better prepared to participate at the National Festival thanks to the talent found at the Ugwuabia Festival.

The festival was held twice, the first time in November 1994 and the second time in November 1996. Prior to Orji Uzor Kalu taking over as the stale’s executive governor and appointing Chikamnayo as Commissioner for information, tourism, and culture, the 1996 edition was the final.

Chikanwayo recognized the need to host the Ugwuairia Festival in 2000 and asked then-governor Kalu to approve the festival’s budget of N8,460,00. The festival was scheduled for November 8–11, 2000, with the usual scope being expanded to include other departments of Tourism and Film, as well as a special Gala Night featuring an award ceremony for well-known Nigerian artists and art enthusiasts.

In a letter dated October 16, 2000, with reference MICT/S.176/T/X and the subject line “REQUEST FOR FUNDING OF 1ST INTER-STATE FILM. CULTURE AND TOURISM FIESTA:”UGWUABIA in 2000.” Governor Kalu was instructed by Chikamnayo to take into account and approve two things: (1) the holding of the first interstate film, culture, and tourism fiesta/award ceremony, known as the Third Ugwuabia Festival, in November 2000; and (2) the release of N8,460,000.00, or eight million, four hundred, and sixty thousand naira, for the festival, which will last for one week.

However, the former commissioner wrote the previous governor again on November 7, 2000, asking for an extra N15,800,000.00 for the same festival. The former commissioner informed the former governor in a letter with the reference MICT/COM/S.39/111/223 and the caption “Additional funding for “Ugwuabia 2000″ that, given the highly expanded nature of the Ugwuabia 2000” fiesta and the expected category of visitors, he was requesting an additional release of N15,800,000.00 to cover (i) the mounting of an ultramodern stage at Umuahia stadium and payment for five musical stars via Bright Chimezie N6,800,000.00; (ii) the engagement of specialized PR agents Nl,300,000.00; (iii); a one-week advertisement for the Ugwuab.ia fiesta by NTA Network and FRCN for N3,200,000.00; (vi) other committee requirements for N4,500,000.00, for a total of N15,800,000.00. 

Instead of approving this second request, Governor Kalu is said to have urged Chief Chikamnayo to look for funding from private citizens and businesses. He subsequently relocated to the now-defunct Hallmark Bank in Umuahia, where he instructed the manager, Richard Harrison—who was later named Abia Stale Commissioner for Finance—to authorize Ugwuabia 2000 to take out an overdraft, to be reimbursed from the release and monthly allotments to the ministry of information, tourism, and culture.

Harrison asked the state’s accountant general for written permission to use such a facility. Chikamnayo spoke with Mr. G.N. Anyanwoke, the former state accountant general, who complied and granted the bank permission to let Ugwuabia 2000 to create an account with the Hank and make overdrafts from the account. In this manner, on November 26, 2000, Ugwuabia 2000 account No. 102099-100 was created with N1,000.00, and the signatories were the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, GC. Adiele, and Director of Finance, Ada Ijioma. This came about following Chikamnayo’s deposit of N4 million from the governor into his own Hallmark Bank Plc, Umuahia branch account number 1011335-100.

However, as of February 6, 2001, Chikamnayo had overdrawn a total of N37, 380,382.72 before the state administration could even realize it. The former governor, Kalu, was furious that someone he loved so deeply could be capable of deceiving his administration as a result of this scam. Chief Theodore Ahamefula Orji, the current governor of Abia State and Kalu’s former chief of staff, was instructed to write the police commissioner and ask him to look into the scam. As soon as the state police headquarters received Orji’s letter, a thorough investigation into the fraud was launched. Multiple persons provided statements to the police over the course of the inquiry.

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