Bertie Smalls was an English armed robber who was active in the 1960s and 70s; a time considered as the golden age of British armed robbery. Smalls committed his first robbery when he was 15. He committed his life to crime. Before 1970, Smalls already had a string of high-profile robberies to his name, and was a respected figure in the London Underworld.
On the 9th of February, 1970, Smalls led a gang from the Wembley Mob, in the East End of London, to rob a Barclays Bank branch in Ilford. The gang successfully got away with £237,736, a record at the time. Most of the team left England on various routes. Smalls, himself, boarded a train to Paris and from there went on to the Costa del Sol, where he read English newspapers looking for police updates about the robbery. The police made an early breakthrough, with an informant naming Smalls as the leader of the gang.
In Imo State of Nigeria, we have our own Bertie Smalls. The Imo State Bertie Smalls uses his pen as his crime weapon. Our Bertie Small is the Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly Chief Benjamin Uwajumogu. I call him Bertie Smalls because of his high stealing of Imo tax payers money as revealed by his former media aide Mr Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha .
Iwuoha in his petition to EFCC disclosed how fraudulent contracts for road projects worth billions of naira were awarded by Uwajumogu and how the Speaker used the proceeds of the crime to acquire several properties in Nigeria such as : N500 million naira Asphalt plant along Onitsha road Owerri,15 mansions along Chief Ben Uwajumogu Street, Federal Housing Estate Umuguma Owerri – West LGA,Jasmine Hotels and Suites behind Imo Concorde Hotel valued at over N70 million, over 200 plots of land located in Owerri West LGA,N400million naira Mansion at Ihitte /Uboma,2 other mansions at Ihitte/Uboma,Mansions in Aba and Umuahia,N760 million naira Crush Rock Industry in Ebonyi State,N500 million naira private hotel in Abuja,N750 million naira private hotel in Lagos. Even the Imo State liason office in Abuja was sold to him for N70 million naira which he has since converted to his private hotel.
Two weeks ago I called on the leadership of the Imo State House of Assembly to constitute a probe panel to investigate the allegations levelled against Uwajumogu by Mr Iwuoha. Till today, there is silence from the House Members. We are talking about stealing from public coffers which is a crime against the progress of Ndi-Imo yet the House Members are silent. This is making me to wonder the kind of persons we sent to represent us in the House. I am shaking my head.
Base on the silence of our lawmakers several groups have dedicated themselves to lead a peaceful demonstration in Owerri the capital city of Imo State on 17th of March 2014 tagged “ Benjamin Uwajumogu Must Go’’ to press home demands for a panel to be constituted to investigate this corruption allegations levelled against the Speaker .The groups have also commenced the printing of thousands of flyers that will be distributed in Owerri.
It is part of my dream to see Imo State’s public space rid of charlatans, usurpers, pretenders and fly-by-nights. Our Lawmakers must prove to us that it is not the entire capitalist members of the stinking Assembly that are enmeshed in this orgy of corruption and mass looting of Imo money.
No doubt Uwajumogu is in the court of public opinion but he considers his fraud expose as a circus show. He has not lost sleep, notwithstanding the ignominy the revelations by his ex –media aide has unleashed on him. Reacting to the allegations against him , he boasted, “God has never disappointed me. I sleep well, exercise well and eat well. I don’t allow anything to weigh down my mind. I thank God for creating me. I have lived in mansions and i have owned mansions before i joined politics. It is only paupers and never do wells like Uwadi that commits fraud’’.
But if Uwajumogu was so rich before he became a member of the Imo House of Assembly as he claimed to be, how come he could not fund his election campaign in 2011 and had to borrow 10.6 million naira for his political campaign from Chief Atan Acholonu (One Armed General) from Ehime Mbano? How come he had to borrow another 11.5 million naira from Chief George Egu in 2011 to also support his political campaign? I am aware that Uwajumogu due to his extravagant lifestyles so mismanaged his late father’s companies, Eastern Comfort Hotel in Umuahia and Amic Foam Factory along Port Harcourt Onitsha Road in the 90’s and went bankrupt.
This capitalist thieving Speaker, the Bertie Smalls of Imo State , unless removed from the House will always and would always directly loot Imo monies that ought to be used to better the lot of the vast majority of the Imo population. Equally worrisome is that when he is not busy with direct looting of the State’s treasury, his only other pre-occupation is the implementation of laws in the house that has made life harder for the overwhelming majority of Imolites.
His Media Aide Mr Emeka Ahaneku has been calling me all sorts of names and threatening me with all kind of lawsuit and body harm. He is going about making press releases and rejoinders with the swagger of a man whose boss has been nominated for the Nigerian Merit Award. He is pumping his fists, nodding his head like a lizard and boasting of how he will crush me once he gets to know my address. i wish to let them know that I cannot be intimidated to stop speaking my mind as a Nigerian citizen. Section 22 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution allows all citizens open-power of expression and freedom of commenting on both Local, State and National governments issues. international norms on freedom of expression also empowers me to speak out. Ahaneku is dancing the surugede dance without knowing that the surugede is the dance of the spirits.
Only one man in the State has stolen over N3billion naira Imo tax payers money and they want me to keep quite. One man has stolen over N3billion naira In a state where more than 80 percent of the population do not have access to potable/pipe-borne water supply, and where tertiary institutions in the state have no functional ICT facilities. N3 billion can at least lay some pipes for water supply for some areas in Imo State where potable pipe-borne water supply has been non-existent for years. The money can even procure farm inputs and equipments for Imo farmers. Save us oh God