An Enugu State High Court has confiscated four Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) belonging to Mrs. Ifeoma Nwobodo, the embattled former Chief of Staff to immediate past Governor of the state, Sullivan Chime.
The confiscation took place less than two weeks after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) grilled Mrs. Nwobodo and the State Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ikeje in connection with the ongoing probe of Chime administration for fraud, corruption and misappropriation of public funds.
Daily Independent gathered that on Tuesday, August 11, 2015 morning court officials, who were accompanied by armed policemen, invaded the residence of Mrs. Nwobodo at Ridgeway Road GRA Enugu and impounded the SUVs.
The vehicles were impounded in compliance with the judgment of the Enugu High Court, ordering Mrs. Nwobodo, the defendant, to pay N10 million damages to the plaintiff, Mrs. Ethel Nebo Ezeabasilim, for her wrongful removal as Chairman of Enugu State Universal Basic Education Commission (ESUBEB).
The Court had on June 18, 2014, declared Mrs. Ezeabasilim’s removal as illegal, null and void but the judgment Mrs. Nwobodo through her lawyer, Anthonmy Ani, SAN, who was then Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the Chime administration, appealed against the judgment.
In June this year, the Court of Appeal upheld the judgment of the lower Court, agreeing that Mrs. Ezeabasilim was wrongfully removed as ESUBEB boss three months before the end of her tenure by Mrs. Nwobodo.
Narrating the circumstances that led to the confiscation of the four SUVs, counsel to the plaintiff, Mr. Tagbo Ike, explained that after efforts to get Mrs. Nwobodo pay the judgment debt proved futile, the court bailiff decided to attach the defendant’s property.
Ike said that the four vehicles would be sold to raise N10 million which would be given to the plaintiff in lieu of the damage she suffered on account of her wrongful removal from office.
It would be recalled that in November 2012, Mrs. Nwobodo used soldiers to force Ezeabasilim out of office as the ESUBEB boss.
Narrating her ordeal to journalists at that time, Ezeabasilim traced her predicament to 583 contracts that would be executed by ESUBEB including new construction.
Ezeabasilim said that the state government set up a per-qualification committee headed by one Nduka Ikeyi, which decided that only four contractors – New Techno Nig. Ltd, J and J. Techno Nig. Ltd, Raycon Nigeria Ltd and Akiota Works Ltd – would execute the 583 slots contrary to the ESUBEB law and procurement act.
“The Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mrs. Ifeoma Nwobodo, set up an Education Sector Committee, comprising of herself as Chairman, the ESUBEB Chairman and Commissioner for Education, without any member from the other educational institutions in the state, which means the committee was set up to hijack the ENSUBEB contracts.
“Mrs. Nwobodo asked me to surrender schools listed for the projects. I did that. But, before then, there was an action plan which I sent to the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and it was approved. Later, the Chief of Staff called me and said that the governor directed that I should prepare a second action plan, which I did. But UBEC said that they can only accept an amendment to the first action plan.
“They put an advert that anybody who has not previously executed a contract up to N500 million is not eligible. That is to ensure that contractors from Enugu did not benefit. I did another action plan, but the Chief of Staff rejected it. The Commissioner for Education gave me a list of the committee headed by Nduka Ikeyi, which per-qualified four contractors for 583 slots. They asked me to publish it. I did it. When contractors saw it, they went to court to challenge it. They sued me that I should not open the bids,” she said.
Ezeabalisi said that she held a pre-bid meeting and when she left the meeting, some persons sent from Government House with evil intention, went into her office and carted her files away.