Permanent Secretary in the Imo State Ministry of Works, Engr. Egbuka E.C has come under criticisms for allegedly taking sides in a dispute involving two rival hoteliers.
The senior civil servant, who was expected to have fairly mediated in the dispute, was rather found attempting to intimidate and wield the influence of the Ministry of Works against a hotelier and Managing Director of Aify Global Queeneth Hotel, Owerri.
Though Egbuka has denied the allegations, his actions seem to suggest that he made himself a willing tool in the hands of one of the rival hoteliers who has conveniently kept himself in the shadows while allegedly working to undermine the fortunes of his competitor.
Writing a warning letter to the management of Aify Global Queeneth Hotel without hearing their side of the matter smacked of complicity and connivance on the part of permanent secretary who had acted on a purported petition to the ministry by one Bob Dick, a hotelier said.
The letter, dated May 4, 2020 written to Aify Global Queeneth Hotel’s Managing Director by the said Egbuka E. C, alleged that the hotel was harassing members of the neighbourhood and had blocked off access road to neighbours. Egbuka had warned the Managing Director to moderate the actions of the hotel.
Aggrieved that the Permanent Secretary did not give the hotel any hearing – fair or otherwise – before coming to the conclusion that the hotel was engaging in the harassment of members of the neighbourhood, the hotel management through its lawyer, A.I. Nwachukwu wrote the Permanent Secretary expressing dismay that a top functionary of the state could throw caution to the wind to decide a matter without hearing both sides.
The lawyers who wondered how a hotel business could block off access road used by its customers, warned Egbuka that the era of impunity was far gone with the administration of Senator Rochas Okorocha adding that his action was clearly sending a wrong signal to the public while misrepresenting the ideals of the Hope Uzodinma administration in Imo State.
A top government official who craved anonymity has cautioned against the resort to using government paraphenelia to frustrate private investments in the state by overzealous civil servants, adding that it was doing more harm than good to the economy of the state.
Reacting, however, Egbukas who owned up that he wrote the warning letter to the hotels said he did so at the instance of the Commissioner for Works, Barr. Ralph Nwosu. However, he noted that at no time did he approach the said hotel for gratification.