In all, Egwu and his wife are alleged to have appropriated close to N80 billion out of the over N150 billion accruing to the state as revenue under his eight year-watch as Chief Executive Officer. For his successor, the governor left a debt profile of N10 billion.
The first of the allegations against Egwu is false declaration of assets. In his Assets Declaration Form, dated 21 July 1999, Egwu claimed that he had three buildings located in Amoffia Ngbo, Ezzamgbo and Abakaliki, all valued at N15 million. But Egwu’s accusers are challenging him, claiming that it was a lie fabricated to cover up intended and pre-determined fraudulent acquisition of property while in office. They allege that Dr. Egwu, both as a lecturer at the then Enugu State University of Technology, Abakaliki campus (now Ebonyi State University) and later Commissioner for Education, had no personal house at Abakaliki, the state capital, or his town, Amoffia. They insist that the university accommodated him at its quarters, an address he still used even as governor, in his 7 May 2003 letter to Allstates Trust Bank, seeking a N71.5 million loan facility.
Before moving into the university’s house, Egwu and his family, as at 1996, were living in a two-bedroom flat at 25 Igweorie Street, Abakaliki. It was in one Mallam Gab’s block of six flats, a tenement he left in dramatic circumstance.
Egwu, the petitioners claim, could only boast of a weather-beaten Peugeot 305 saloon car, which he bought from Mr. George of Sakamori quarters, Abakaliki, on instalmental basis. This privilege was allegedly accorded Egwu because Mr. George’s wife taught in the same Girls College, Ugwuachara, as Egwu’s wife. “Residents of Abakaliki still recall that car which is a point of reference for struggling and hardworking people that tomorrow could be better,” the petitioners said.
Dr. Egwu’s desire for real estate could make the Abachas envious. The former governor’s properties are valued at N12.588 billion. They include a five-star hotel called Grace Court Hotel and Suites, valued at over N2 billion and situated along Nna Street, Abakaliki. Built within two years in a residential area, Egwu and his wife started acquiring adjoining properties to make the hotel premises bigger. To gain ownership of the N30 million property of Mr. Dominic Aja, the Head of Service in the state, the former governor built a similar structure for him near the hotel.
But another target, Mr. Okwudili Ojugwu, a businessman, was too tough for the Egwus to bend. He initially offered to sell his property near the Egwus’ for N30 million. However, when he realised he could squeeze the former governor for much more, Ojugwu raised the cost to N50 million. To further put the former governor on tenterhooks, the property owner raised its value to N70 million and, further still, to N100 million. And though Egwu was desperate to buy the property at any cost, Ojugwu was not willing to sell and was only upping the ante to discourage the former governor. The property which is now situated within the premises of Egwu’s hotel has become an embarrassing problem for the ex-governor.
The Egwus also own Hope High International School, Abakaliki, valued at over N1.2 billion. Constructed within one year, the school which admitted its first set of students in 2003, is situated on 40 hectares of land, which originally belonged to the state government. However, the original master plan shows that the entire Onwe road area where it is situated was meant for the construction of a market, a church, a recreation centre and other facilities. Moreover, part of the land on which the school is situated was reclaimed at a huge cost from rivers Iyiokwu and Iyiudele in Abakaliki, using the state’s share of the ecological fund.
Egwu’s other choice properties include a block of 12 flats at Eboh Street, valued at N45 million; a similar N35 million structure at 8 Francis Orji Street, and another N55 million property at 3 Douglas Ogbonna Street, all in Abakaliki. He also owns a N50 million duplex at Umuebe, Ezzamgbo, in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of the state.
The former Ebonyi governor has an ultra-modern farm and country home, both valued at N820 million. Covering an area of over 100 hectares, the farm is a shouting distance from the site of the Ebonyi State airport project which was, at Egwu’s order, relocated from its original site along Abakaliki-Onueke road. Not a few citizens of Ebonyi believe that Egwu relocated the airport to its new site with the intention of having it service his farm.
According to COGESS, the farm is being developed by a consortium of experts, including technocrats from the Isreali-owned Dizengoff West Africa who were paid $6m for the now abandoned Nkaliki automated hatchery. COGESS reckons that the unwritten brief for Dizengoff now is to build the Umuebe farm as part of the initial contract for the botched hatchery project. Egwu’s repeated trips to Israel lends credence to this argument.
Also listed as part of Egwu’s booty are: a duplex with surrounding bungalows worth N25 million at Otuokpeye, Amoffia Ngbo, where his parents hailed from; a duplex at Mrs Egwu’s family compound at Ezzamgbo with a network of tarred roads, all valued at N85m; a four-storey edifice at Ezzamgbo worth over N80m; petrol filling stations at Amasiri, Ebonyi State and Port Harcourt, Rivers State, worth over N150m; a seven-hectare fenced plot at Mile 50, Abakiliki, purchased from the Pecuno family at the cost of N35m and a private recreational centre and resort opposite Hope International High School, Onwe Road, Abakaliki valued at N200m.
Egwu is also in the pillory for embarking on the construction of a personal shopping complex opposite Democracy Estate, Abakaliki valued at N150m; purchase of the Starberg mechanised quarry, off Abakalilki-Enugu Expressway, valued at over N800m, and for the acquisition of the headquarters of Widow Care Foundation, Mrs Egwu’s NGO, opposite Democracy Estate, Abakaliki valued at N80m.
The petitioners disclosed that the quarry site on the hills dovetails into the recreation centre and resort on Onwe Road and Hope High International School on the flood plains of Iyiokwu river to form an unbroken 2-kilometre chain of a private estate newly acquired by the Egwus, which terminates at the Afikpo Road junction. In a zone where a plot of land sells for over N3m, COGGES puts the value of the stretch of land at N550m.
Far from being satisfied with his vast acquisitions, Egwu cornered an over 500-metre stretch of land between Ezzambgo Motor Park and the bridge on the way to Enugu,which is worth over N20m; a building belonging to R.O. Nkwocha at 6872 Presidential Road, opposite Presidential Hotel, Enugu purchased by proxy for N700m; former Seven-Up Bottling Company.
I think I'm going to be really sick!