The Akwa Ibom House of Assembly Committee on Works and Transport, headed by Honourable Idongesit Ituen, has directed the State ministry of transport and Petroleum Resources to reinstate Fingerprints Construction Nigeria limited as consultant for receiving revenue through transport operators ticket sales.
As their name suggests, Fingerprints Construction Nigeria limited is a civil engineering company. People who work in the transport sector believe that the company’s ownership is traceable to Godwin Ntukudeh, the immediate past Commissioner of Works. Their office is along Nsikak Eduok Avenue in Uyo.
As at May 13, a search of their company at the Corporate Affairs Commission reveals that they are not registered as a Nigerian company. This raises brows as to how the company got the job to receive revenue from transport operators in Akwa Ibom.
As can be expected, a civil engineering firm that is not registered in Nigeria, must be a fraudulent setup. It is reported that the newly appointed Commissioner of Transport and Petroleum Resources, Orman Esin had revoked the contract the ministry had with them, as he resumed office, due to inconsistencies he noticed.
A staff of the ministry, whose identity we agreed to conceal, gave us details as to why the Commissioner revoked the contract:
“The Commissioner had invited fingerprints to come for a review of the agreement they had with the ministry in the previous administration. This was in line with the Udom Emmanuel led administration’s new offer of 10% to the technical partners as against 35% that fingerprint was taking in the time of Godwin Ntukudeh.
Fingerprints refused to come. The Commmisioer was forced to terminate the agreement. We’re surprised that the House of Assembly has decided to reinstate them-o.”
There is another company, reportedly registered by Ntukudeh named Teon, whose function was to work with Fingerprints to administer the tickets to Keke operators in the state. These two are easily implicated in an enormous revenue scam according to our investigations.
The source said Fingerprints took 35%, but is that accurate? Our investigation reveals interesting figures.
H!nteractive Nigeria has received report from a high ranking government official to show that Fingerprints limited remits 1 million naira to the ministry of transport on a monthly basis, and 4 million naira into the state coffers. That makes it 5million naira remitted monthly to the state government by this private firm, purportedly owned by super wealthy Ntukudeh.
By the way, it ought to have been cause for suspicion that, when other Commissioners were barely living within stringent economic realities, since 2015, Ntukudeh has been maintaining a castle for an abode.
To remit 5million naira, it is either Fingerprints are saying that there are 71,430 Keke operator tickets are sold monthly in Akwa Ibom State, meaning that 2380 operators buy tickets per month, or the take home for the consultants is better imagined. But H!nteractive has made effort to unravel the schemes covering up the true state of finances in that sector.
By our estimation, there are over 15,000 tricycles in Uyo metropolis alone. The present commissioner of Transport and petroleum resources, on assuming office, had setup a group of thinkers to advise him on the dual purpose office he is occupying. A source that is familiar with the assignment of the group has revealed to us that the group sets the number of tricycles in Akwa Ibom at over 30,000. This corroborates our estimation.
From our research also, we found that each Keke is issued a ticket worth N200 daily. If 20,000 Keke operators buy tickets per day, at worst case, that takes you to 40M naira per day. At the end of one month, you would’ve realized 120 million naira. Yet Fingerprints remit 5 million naira from this to the state.
We have also found out another reason why Orman Esin revoked the contract. The MOU signed between the Ministry under Ntukudeh and Fingerprints was not prepared by the ministry of justice as istandard practice demands, especially in the Udom administration. According to inside info, the Ministry of justice did not endorse the MOU, now archived at the ministry of transport. In essence, the ministry of justice did not prepare the agreement, and did not approve of it.
We cannot confirm if Ntukudeh made any attempts to reach out to his successor Esin regarding the contract. What we know however is that Esin revoked the contract given to Fingerprints in an abrupt manner, and this would have immediately upset his predecessor, who had and still has loyalists in the system, because according to one of our sources, Esin began to face unexpected internal resistant from people he did not know could attempt to frustrate him.
After revoking the contract, the Commissioner called the actual Keke operators to a round table. There, he laid before them the Governor’s programmes for them. He announced, officially, the government’s tax holiday for tricycles and gave them assurances of better treatment. Excited by these offers, the Keke operators followed the commissioner out on what they called a rally to thank Governor Udom Emmanuel, who was on hand to receive them at Wellington Bassey way, near the Governor’s lodge.
The next day, the state woke up to a fetish deposit ‘mbiam’, placed at the entrance to the Ministry of Transport office extension along Ikot Ekpene road. This was a spiritist injunction purportedly placed thereon by unknown persons.
As pictures of the ‘mbiam’ were flown around on social media, people began to ask why the community would suddenly come out to place an injunction on the property when all this time, from the time Aktc occupied the place till they left, there was no problem? Why this time? This was not far fetched from the issue at hand, clearly.
On the directive of the Commissioner, we learn that the box of ‘mbiam’ was burnt up. Elders of the community were called in, who claimed ignorance of the deposit. Their youths also dissociated themselves from it.
Although we do not yet have concrete evidence, but there are reports suggesting that Hon. Idongesit Ituen and some high ranking members of the House of Assembly are fully aware and in some way, receive an unspecified amount from the Ticket deal. Their exact identities are not yet known, but a source who, of course, preferred to be anonymous, suggests that one or two of them are second term parliamentarians. This may not be accurate, but is worth exploring further.
While this report was still being mulled over by our reporters, news came in that the House of Assembly committee on Transport, headed by Hon. Ituen, has ordered the Ministry of Transport to reinstate Fingerprints limited to the ticket deal. There are reports that the Deputy Speaker, Hon Felicia and other members of the House have distanced themselves from the directive, as an ordinary committee cannot give directives on a decision of the Executive.
Media reports began to fly suggesting that the tussle that has ensued between AKHA and the Ministry Transport is an Uyo vs Oron thing, with Orman Esin being accused of flooding the Transport task force with his kinsmen.
To debunk the rumours, the member representing Uyo State Constituency Hon Monday Eyo spoke with press men on Monday May 15. He said he is aware that the task force is led by Uyo indigenes and constituted by people from Uyo and other LGs. Those who have sited the list of workers in that unit confirm that there is no single member from Oron. According to them, as it was under Ntukudeh, so it still is. Orman Esin has only added a uniform to their operations.
If these reports are anything to go by then Hon. Idong Ituen and his committee are by this directive, endorsing the monthly smooth passage of over 115 million naira to a small group of fraudsters in government, to the detriment of the state and at the cost of the toil of poor triycle operators, for many of whom, this is their only source of livelihood.
H!nteractive Special Report
This is a special investigative Report in line with the H!nteractive society watch programme.