By Ike Mmachi, Abakaliki
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, on Monday, said it had commenced investigations on how an Ebonyi community illegally took over a hospital facility built by the Federal Government.
According to the commission, the hospital was meant to serve as a Teaching Hospital for medical students of Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo (AE-FUNAI) upon completion.
However, Ebunwana community in Afikpo South Local Government Area where the project was located, upon its completion took over the running of the hospital.
On Monday, the commission having recovered the hospital from the community officially handed it over to the university.
Chairman of the commission, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, represented by Mr Nzebunachi Chukwuma, an ICPC Superintendent, said the Commission was still investigating the matter to unravel how the community took over the hospital worth N150 million.
He said:”The project was appropriated in 2019 and completed in March 2020, at the cost of the above. It was facilitated by the former senator representing Ebonyi South Senatorial District, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji.
“After the completion, the local community unofficially took over the hospital though it was not meant for the community but they went ahead to appoint a consultant to manage the hospital on an arrangement of a profit-sharing formula between the community and the consultant.
“The project has been recovered by the commission’s Constituency and Executive Project Tracking Group (CEPTG) team and is being handed over to the university community.
“Meanwhile, investigations are ongoing to unravel how the local community got access and took control of the hospital without any official ceremony,” he added.
Owasanoye said the hospital, fully equipped with state-of-the-art medical facilities was conceived as a medical outpost of FUNAI in the area.
The Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof Sunday Elom, who was represented by Prof Smart Otu, Dean Faculty of Social Sciences, described the project as a unique intervention.
Elom assured the community of immediate and effective commencement of activity in the hospital.
He commended ICPC Chairman for initiating such project and described it as a welcome development, capable of preventing execution of substandard ventures and also stimulate people into delivering good jobs.
“The community should know they will be first beneficiary of the project. We will collaborate to ensure the place is used optimally,” Elom said.
Meanwhile, the Director of Physical Planning, Works and Services AE-FUNAI, Dr Ezeocha Iheanacho, stated that the structure and equipment of the project were in good state.
“What we met at the hospital is satisfactory,” Iheanacho said.
The community Chairman, Dr Ama Udu-Aka expressed satisfaction that the mutual relationship anticipated was coming to play.