By Chidi Nkwopara – OWERRI
The Managing Director of Grandi Projetti Construction International Nigeria Limited, Mr. Jack Afara, a Palestinian national,Tuesday, told the Judicial Commission of Inquiry on Contracts that he worked on Lamonde Hotel, Owerri, owned by Senator Rochas Okorocha.
Afara, who disclosed this while speaking from the witness box, said he did not know that he never knew that the hotel’s parking lot was not part of Government House.
His words: “I had nine jobs attached to, that were attached to Government House project and each of them had contract figures attached to it. I worked on a 2,300 square metres of Lamonde Hotel’s parking lot. I thought it was one of the Government House projects. It was worth N22 million.
“This Lamonde Hotel job became clear to me, when I eventually saw a signboard, showing that it was a hotel. I was not paid N395 million for Government House projects.”
On the involvement of his company in the reshaping of the Imo Broadcasting Corporation’s, IBC, staff quarters and transmitting station, Mr. Afara said: “When I started work there (IBC), I never knew that the governor was going to change the premises to Rochas Foundation College.”
Continuing, Afara said that the IBC Quarters and the adjoining roads cost N195 million, stressing that he had an interim certificate for the work he did.
Answering a question on the Urualla Erosion Control project, Mr. Afara said he was only paid N60 million, out of a earned certificate of N128.6 million for the Urualla Erosion Control project.
He expressed shock that the Rochas Okorocha administration paid the sum of N4.8 billion to another company, which he said did not do any job on the erosion control site.
“My Lord, I am speechless. It is shocking to hear that a company was fully paid N4.8 billion for the Urualla Erosion Control project. My Lord, I did everything on this site. No other person did anything here. I have pictures to support what I did at the site”, Afara told the commission.
While affirming that he also owns Mid East Construction Company Limited, Afara however, denied that the company did any N75,205,630 contract at Primary School 2, Orlu, for which the sum of N20 million was allegedly paid to his company.
Afara similarly disclosed a strange practice, where contractors were expected to sign and deposit open cheques in the Government House, each time some money was paid to them.
“Each time we were given some money, we were forced to sign and deposit open cheques to the tune of the monies given to us. Most times, I will write to my bank, stopping the cheques when jobs for which I was paid, were accomplished or when I ran short of funds”, Afara said.
He affirmed that the jobs he did for Imo State Government were not advertised, adding that he was usually invited by Okorocha and asked “to move in and start work”.
“I was usually invited by the governor and asked to move in and start work. He usually promised that he would perfect the contract papers”, Afara said.