Okorocha who was challenging the report said he spent the state’s funds on a “myriad of verifiable projects scattered around the state”
He accused the government of chasing shadows and failing what he called “acceptance test” in Imo State.
He was reacting the report of the panel which was submitted to the governor on Monday.
The report said: “Monumental fraud was orchestrated by the contractors in the period under review, with strong collusion with some civil servants who helped in the fraud, which is evident in over-pricing of the value of the contracts executed.”
He added that there was a flagrant disregard for due process and the Public Procurement Act, seen in “outrageous contract pricing and shady contract executions as well as payment for non-performing contracts”.
In a statement by his media adviser, Sam Onwuemeodo, he wondered why Iheka, who is a judge, could go-ahead to submit the report knowing well that a Federal High Court (FHC) had ordered for the maintenance of the status quo.
He however asked the panel and the state government to publish the final report verbatim.
“For almost nine months on the seat, the government in Imo State has been struggling for acceptance. In his Independence Day speech the governor said that he inherited a systematic fraudulent system from (Emeka) Ihedioha.
The statement further said “The media had come up with stories, with the referenced caption, following the report of Justice Benjamin Iheaka’s panel of inquiry on contracts from 2011 to 2019. That was the period, Senator Rochas Okorocha had governed the state. And our initial reaction goes this way.
“We challenge the government in Imo State, led by Senator Hope Uzodinma to publish the Iheaka report verbatim, so that Imo people in particular and Nigerians in general, could read the report and see how the panel arrived at N106 billion which they said that Senator Okorocha should refund.
“We have always claimed that Okorocha as governor had more than one thousand projects to his credit and nobody, including the government in Imo has said it is not true or has openly challenged us to publish the projects because they know that the projects exist. And if they exist, how would someone have made away with N106 Billion and still do such befitting projects.”
“We are also demanding for the publication of the report because we do not believe that the chairman of the panel, a Judge, could go ahead to submit a report on a matter that is pending at a Federal High Court in which the Presiding Judge had ordered for the maintenance of the status quo.
“Okorocha had gone to court to complain that several panels cannot be probing him on the same issues. The EFCC is probing him too, following petitions from the same government.
“No serious panel would have made such recommendation. And let the government publish the list of contractors who handled contracts under Okorocha, state the contracts they did, how much they were paid respectively, how they were paid and what they should have been paid in the estimation of the panel members.”
Meantime, the Justice Benjamin Iheaka Panel of Inquiry which investigated the award of contracts in Imo State has said it is specific on the administration of former Governor Rochas Okorocha.
Recall that the Panel submitted its report to Governor Hope Uzodimma on Monday, October 5, indicting the Okorocha regime and saying it uncovered fraudulent contracts worth N106billion which the regime should be made to refund.
“The investigation covers the award of contracts during the period of Okorocha’s administration from 2011 to 2019 and not 2006 to 2019 as erroneously reported by some newspapers.
“Consequently, the report by a local newspaper that former Governors Achike Udenwa and Ikedi Ohakim are to refund N106 billion together with Okorocha should be ignored as the probe period did not extend to their regimes.
“The mix-up arising from the duration of the probe – 2011 to 2019 – and not -2006 to 2019 – is highly regretted.”