■ I’ll expose those involved –Bishop Chukwuma
■ No fraud –Ngige
Raphael Ede, Enugu
Despite the Federal Government’s claim of footing the bills for the burial of former Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, his family is yet to get a refund of 200,000 Pounds incurred as medical bill six months after.
Although the Federal Government was said to have paid the money directly to the London hospital which treated Dr Ekwueme, it was learnt that the clinic returned the money to government coffers because the ex-VP’s family had already settled the bill before help came from Abuja. Six months after the transaction, the family has waited in vain to get the refund. This has raised concerns as no one can say precisely who has custody of the fund, which had already been signed off from government treasury. One of those involved is the Archbishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical Provence, Anglican Communion, Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, who is a known counselor to the Ekwueme family. He is already alleging fraud. The second republic Vice President died in a London hospital, on November 19, 2017 at the age 85 and was buried in his hometown, Oko, Anambra state on February 2, 2018.
Bishop Chukwuma told Saturday Sun in an exclusive interview that the £200,000 released for the medical treatment of late Ekwueme is yet to get to the family even when such money had been signed off.
“A lot of things are wrong in this administration. This government is pretending to be fighting corruption but corruption is higher now than what it used to be. Right now, the money meant for Ekwueme’s treatment is not yet released. The hospital has returned the money but government has refused to release it back to the family. Over 200,000 pounds and so on and so forth”, he stated.
According to the fiery cleric who accused government of insincerity, “they delayed in paying the medical bill of late Ekwueme until the family paid the bill to the London clinic.
“When the London clinic was paid by government after the family had paid, the hospital said the family had paid and returned the money to the Central Bank. Now, the money, which CBN should refund to Ekwueme’s family is now being held.
“This money has been signed out. Where is the medical bill refund released by the Central Bank of Nigeria, which was returned by London clinic? That is the question, where is it? It should be refunded to the family and if this doesn’t happen, I am going to speak more and this is going to cause serious scandal for the federal government”, Chukwuma warned.
When Saturday Sun contacted CBN, an official who would not want to be quoted said the bank can’t speak on the matter. Efforts to speak to the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed also failed. He didn’t reply a text message sent to his mobile line at 11:43am on Friday. Calls to his phone were also not connecting. His colleague in the Ministry of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige who was the deputy chairman of the Ekwueme burial committee set up by the federal government however faulted the allegation.
In a text message response to our enquiry, Ngige said, “No truth in that at all.” Minutes after, the Minister sent another message saying, “The bill was not up to that but FG picked the entire bill and other ancillary bills like air ambulance, casket, etc. I’m deputy chair of FG burial committee hence in a position to know.”