The Stench of corruption under Alia

The Stench of corruption under Alia

…Searchlight on BIPC

By Peter Awunah, PhD

The past few days have been inundated with reports of several development “strides” being made by the Governor of Benue State, Fr Hyacinth Alia. The subject of such discussions has been the Benue Investment and Property Company Limited, BIPC which has been “unveiling” a number enterprises that the company claims belong to the Benue State Government.

I initially didn’t want to bother myself with the stories and social media posts on the “wonderful achievements” of the Alia government through BIPC. But on second thought, I decided to take a closer look at what is happening at BIPC and my findings are beyond words. I wonder if Governor Alia is aware and willfully authorizing the fleece or if he is too naive to comprehend the jargon of those working with him and are secretly mortgaging the future of the state. Either of these or both are the reality.

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Emperor Fertilizer:
BIPC yesterday launched the Emperor Fertilizer brand among other products and told the people of the state that the company is owned by the government of Benue State. But my investigation at the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, proves that the state government is not the owner of the company. The Managing Director of BIPC, Raymond Asemakaha is the owner of the company with two of his partners Ioryoosu Josephat Terna and Abeda Theresa. There is nothing associating Emperor Fertilizer with the Benue State Government.

My search as you can see in the attached screenshots indicated that the fertilizer business was registered at CAC on the 20th of this month (May 2024) bearing Registration Number 7509209 with Asemakaha as its proprietor and two others.

It is an undeniable fact which any investment expert would tell you that if the State Government wants to float a business bearing the name of the state (in this case Benue), the Executive Council will direct the Secretary to the State Government, SSG to issue a letter of consent for such a company to be incorporated in the government’s name. In the event where the subscribers to the memos of such a business (government ministers/agencies) like in the case of the fertilizer company under discussion do not want to use the name ‘Benue’, the (subscribers) proprietor of the company would have been Benue Investment and Property Company Ltd, BIPC which would have held 99% of the shares and not Raymond Asemakaha as we have seen in the incorporation of Emperor Fertilizer.

In other words, BIPC can incorporate a subsidiary with the formal consent of the government through the SSG. But a Managing Director of BIPC has no power to go to CAC and incorporate a company with his name as the proprietor as Asemakaha is currently doing with several outlets such as water factory, bakery, micro finance bank, fertilizer and the proposed brewery.

With the fertilizer company (Emperor) incorporated in Asemakaha’s name, how does anyone now hold the State Government responsible if the company violates his or her fundamental rights? How can we say that the fertilizer business and the others being floated by Alia’s government through BIPC belong to the Benue State Government?

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My conclusion on this issue is that BIPC does not have a board in place as it stands and the company recently divested (sold) the state shares in Zenith Bank and some other entities worth more than N10 billion and these people are looking for ways to divert the huge proceeds from the sale of the state shares. This is why we are witnessing accidental/emergency companies springing up in the name of the state government.

If Governor Alia claims not to be aware of what is happening at BIPC, I expect him to set up an investigation panel to look into these issues. I equally expect the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to quickly beam its searchlight on BIPC and other agencies under the Alia administration to arrest the heist before it becomes too late.

Dr Awunah writes from Durumi, Abuja.