A former Attorney General of Abia State and Commissioner for Justice, Chief Umeh Kalu SAN, has debunked a social media report written in his name against the Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chinedum Orji.
Kalu, in a telephone chat with THE WHISPERER, described the media report as false and mischievous.
He said the fake report, titled: “Umeh Kalu to Chinedum Orji (Ikuku): You are a mistake and an inglorious bastard”, was totally misleading.
“I am yet to read any article from the Speaker. I wrote a letter to the Governor and not the Speaker. I cannot reply without seeing what they wrote. I will take my time before responding to them.”
THE WHISPERER had reported that, Umeh, who served during the first term of Governor Okezie IkpeazuI, ripped into his former boss in a lengthy letter where he itemized the failings of the current administration of the state and what could be done to halt the downward slope.
In the letter released to the media titled “State of Abia: Wake up call on Gov Ikpeazu,” Umeh Kalu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said he always “looked stupid” whenever he tried to defend the administration because of the “ parlous/pitiable state of affairs in our State” and wrote the letter to ease the “pressure” on his mind.
He said infrastructure in the state was in rapid decline while the government engaged in bogus spending on non-priority areas which include a monthly allocation of N500-N700 million as security votes to the governor.
“Official government records put the security votes for the governor at 7.4 billion Naira (2019) and 6.1 billion Naira (2020); deputy governor at 291 million Naira (2019) and 442 million Naira (2020), and the speaker of the House of Assembly at 325 million Naira (2019) and 260 million Naira (2020),” he alleged.
He wondered why Ikpeazu would need N500 million as monthly security votes when all the security forces in Abia State, apart from the State Vigilante Service, are paid by the federal government.
Kalu expressed shock that Ikpeazu had chosen to derail from his initial “passion for service” to pandering to other interests by enriching a few to the detriment of the people. He accused the governor of being clannish and nepotistic in his appointments and hiring of consultants working for the state, especially those engaged to obtain the State’s Paris Club debt refund from the federal government.
He said the “Paris Club debt refund has given birth to some Abia billionaires, who are basically bereft of any known qualification in finance or related matters. The only qualification these few persons possess is their affiliation to the seat of power in our State.
“While these few persons drive around in their fleet of exotic cars, thousands of deprived Abians for whom these funds are meant to ameliorate their problems are either dead or living destitute.”
The former attorney-general of Abia State also berated Ikpeazu for causing “a huge drain on the resources of the State” by the partial movement of government activities to the governor’s lodge in Aba, forcing government officials to shuttle between the state capital and the commercial city.
He urged Governor Ikpeazu to prioritize road infrastructure, funding of the Judiciary and welfare of civil servants in the remainder of his administration in order to right the wrongs.
He said roads in Umuahia, Aba and Arochukwu were in deplorable conditions while judges and magistrates in the state are facing a dearth of court halls and lacked official vehicles, and had resorted to suing the government to receive their gratuity and accrued pension.
On roads, he said, “Umuahia has indeed suffered neglect in the hands of successive governments, including yours. I implore you, within the available time to ensure completion, dualization and lighting of the FMC to Ubakala/Enugu – Aba Expressway junction. The Mission Hill access road into Umuahia from the Enugu – Aba Expressway remains an embarrassment to our State and the capital city. The attempt at demarcating that road is an added problem to motorists.
“We visit other States and cannot pretend not to know that no State hosts that nature of colonial road announcing entry into its capital city. The Mission Hill road needs to be expanded and compensation paid to owners of roadside structures and buildings that may be affected in the expansion process. Ditto for the roads leading to Isieke and Ikot Ekpene. It is not an impossibility to revamp the Umuahia water scheme.
“For the commercial city of Aba, you may concentrate on the three areas of ingress and egress into and out of Aba. That is the Aba/Owerri road, the Aba/Port – Harcourt road and the Ogbor Hill to Ehere and Ukpakri roads. Tagging these roads federal roads is no excuse, as the dilapidated nature of these roads is adversely affecting the economic fortunes of Aba and its citizens.
“The internal roads within Aba metropolis, which till date remain the most efficiently planned in the entire southeast region of Nigeria should be given attention. Special attention should be given to the roads leading to the major markets and areas of economic activities. It is disheartening to know that all the efforts and Billions of Naira allegedly expended on the construction of roads leading to the Ariaria market, including the Ukwu mango since 2010 have yielded little or no dividend.”
On the challenges facing the Judiciary, he said, “Funding is key in this respect. I advise you to give assent to the Bill granting autonomy to the judiciary that has been on your desk unattended for the past months. It is worrisome that the judiciary in Abia State cannot even afford to attend the annual judges conference in Abuja on government sponsorship. Several judges in Abia State are yet to be assigned official cars years after their appointment.
“There is a dearth of court halls in Abia State, as most judges and magistrates do not have court halls. There are instances where judges sit out of their jurisdiction due to non – availability of court halls within their areas of jurisdiction. It may interest you to know that the court in your local government area – Obingwa – has been sitting at Aba since the time of your predecessor and has remained so six years after you assumed office as the governor of the State.”
Responding to the letter, the Speaker of the House, through his Chief Press Secretary, Jude Ndukwe accused Chief Umeh Kalu of being “treacherous and shameful”.