By Friday Echi
- Acting Perm Sec, HOD Ecology Dept allegedly fingered
The Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Imo State Mrs Sabina Onwuchi, has been accused of diverting about 20 Million Naira meant for the revegetation of Obizi, Ezinihitte Mbaise gully erosion site.
Our source who preferred anonymity, also alleged that in 2016, Onwuchi collaborated with the Head of Department, Ecology Department, Mr Chukwuma Iheanacho to siphon the funds meant for strengthening the operations of the Ministry being the supervising Ministry of NEWMAP, adding that the Ministry is being run as a private business.
According to our source, in 2016 and 2017, Onwuchi and Iheanacho carried out the contract of revegetation of Eziala-Obizi gully erosion on behalf of the Ministry of Environment at the cost of 23 Million Naira. The contract, Edge Express gathered was duly signed between Imo NEWMAP and Sabaustine Enterprises, own by Mrs Sabina Onwuchi.
According to a source close to the Ministry, “the seedlings used for the referenced contract were bonafide properties of the State Government (Ministry of Environment – Forestry Department). This contract was executed with the State Government’s property (seedlings).
“The question now is, who in the Ministry of Environment or within the government agencies did Sabaustine Enterprises (Mrs Sabina Onwuchi and Chukwuma Iheanacho ) account for the government-owned seedlings used?
“On the 9th of April,2018, the same Iheanacho who reportedly failed during the recruitment interview of State Project Coordinator was presented to the World Bank at the country office at Abuja by the then Commissioner for the replacement of the State Project Coordinator.
“However, the World Bank rejected him based on the fact that he does not possess the required qualification being a Forester and not even an Environmentalist nor an Engineer.”
Our source also disclosed that despite the State Government directives on the stoppage of all mining activities in the state, Onwuchi and Iheanacho have allegedly been collecting illegal levies of 3 Million to 5 Million monthly from miners a situation they said increased erosion spread in the state.
Similarly, it was also alleged that Onwuchi before being appointed as the Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry in connivance with the Forestry Department, deforested part of the Imo State Zoological Garden and Wildlife Park at Nekede, for farming purpose. This according to our source exposed the Zoo to external encroachment and vandalization of parts of the Zoo facilities by criminals.
All efforts to reach Onwuchi and Iheanacho as well as the Ministry’s PRO as at press time were abortive.