Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Angry contractors besieged Government House, Owerri, on Tuesday, demanding payment for contracts executed for the Imo State Universal Education Board (IMSUBEB) during the tenure of former governor Emeka Ihedioha.
The contractors, who defied the early morning rain, protested with placards at Government House.
Some of them claimed that their properties have been taken over by their creditors in the process of pursuing the money owed them by the state government.
According to them, the bank loans they obtained to execute the various contracts have accumulated, causing them problems.
The contractors have also claimed that the Federal Government through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) has released the money to the state government.
According to the chairman of the Registered IMSUBEB Contractors, Williams Ejiakor, the essence of the protest was to bring these issues to the attention of the state government in order to address them.
Ejiakor said: ‘We are registered contractors with IMSUBEB. We are here to ask the board to pay us for the jobs we did which payments had been released by the Federal Government.
‘Jobs for the 2016/2017 Revised Action Plan were awarded to us under the Emeka Ihedioha era. We went into the field immediately even without mobilization and most of us had even delivered up to 100% before the court threw out Ihedioha.
‘We have explored all avenues to reach out to the governor. We have gone through Fr. Mbaka, Archbishop Anthony Obinna, his Chief of Staff, etc, to hear us.’
Reacting to the comment of the protesters, the Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan EmelumbaM said that ‘it was Emeka Ihedioha, that gave contract and he never mobilised them and by law; you are not supposed to go to site without mobilisation. It is against due process and against the procurement act.
‘If they went on their own to continue they should now produce evidence. This government could not ask them to go to the site without mobilising them. They should stop blackmailing government,’ the commissioner said.
‘They are sponsored to come and blackmail government and give an unnecessary impression. If they have their papers correct and are sure of what they are saying, they should go to court; that is where to go and show a breach of contract.’