Domenico Gitto, the owner of Gitto Construzioni Generali Nigeria Limited, the company which donated the controversial Church to Otueke, President Jonathan’s home town in Bayelsa, is dead.
Mr. Gitto, PREMIUM TIMES learnt, died in Nigeria today in yet unclear circumstances.
Sources close to the Italian businessman however say he has been troubled for sometime owing to the huge debt piled up by his company in Nigerian banks.
“The company has been having legal battles with many Nigerian banks over failed debts it owes,” a source said.
Union bank, said to be the largest creditor of Gitto is owed N10billion naira and is reported to have seized some of the company’s heavy equipment it uses for construction.
Gitto is also said to owe Diamond bank N6billion naira, a matter which has led the bank taking the company to court.
A third bank, FCMB, had written to the Federal Ministry of Works asking that all money to be paid Gitto by the ministry be paid to the bank, over a N5billion debt owed it.
All the debt, PREMIUM TIMES learnt, are bad loans as the company has failed to meet its obligations to the banks involved.
It is not clear if Gitto agreed to build the “church gift” edifice in Otueke in order to curry favours from President Goodluck Jonathan and probably be able to pay its debt.
Mr. Jonathan had said, while commissioning the Church, that he simply mentioned the idea of the old dilapidated Church to Mr. Gitto before the latter decided to build the modern edifice.
Mr. Gitto first arrived in Nigeria in 2003 on the invitation of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar. The Italian, believed to be a member of the mafia clan, Provenzano, hosted the former Vice President, in his home in Sicily in August 2003. He has enjoyed government patronage for major constructions since then building major edifice like the Abuja Ecumenical centre, and the Akwa Ibom State Airport.
With the death of Mr. Gitto and the problems the company is having, the fate of the over 12 projects the company is handling for the federal government – including a section of the Abuja-Lokoja road, the Shagari Presidential complex and the East-West road- hangs in the balance.