Sunday, March 3, 2024

Okorocha indicted over N6bn oil funds fraud

Immediate past Governor of Imo State Rochas Okorocha has been indicted for misappropriating over N6b funds allocated to the state’s Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (ISOPADEC).

The committee set up to investigate ISOPADEC’s activities from May 2011 to May 2019 disclosed this while presenting its report to Governor Emeka Ihedioha.

Presenting the report at Government House, Owerri on Wednesday, the Committee Chairman, Romanus Ezeogu said, “It is painful to note that citizens and some Managing Directors colluded with Okorocha to misappropriate ISOPADEC’s funds with impunity.

“Okorocha’s administration handled the funds during his eight years tenure with recklessness. The shortfall in revenue that accrued from the Federation Account uncounted for stood at N6, 044, 774, 341. 37.”

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The panel also alleged that Okorocha arbitrarily released part of ISOPADEC funds to purchase vehicles and transformers for campaigns and diverted over N311b that accrued to the commission from bailout fund, Paris Club refund, local governments joint labour salary/pension, and Secondary Education Management Board Account, among others.

It said in spite of the huge funds that accrued to the commission, “its wage bill stood at N93.6m as at May 2019.

“The issue here begs for explanation on what happened to the original 40 per cent monthly derivation fund allocated to ISOPADEC and Okorocha should be held responsible for the missing funds.”

The committee also indicted Chike Okafor and Paschal Obi, who represent Okigwe South and Ideato South at the House of Representatives for their involvement in the misappropriation of ISOPADEC funds.

Before they were elected into the House of Representatives, they were Commissioner for Finance and Principal Secretary to the governor respectively.

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Ezeogu said, “At various times, Okafor hijacked the financial autonomy of the commission as Finance Commissioner. Besides, Obi, should explain what he did with the N35m advanced to him as seen in the vouchers submitted to the panel.”

Speaking, Ihedioha appreciated the panel for its effort and promised to look into the report with a view to passing a white paper on it, just as he restated his administration’s commitment to due process, accountability and transparency.

But in a swift response to the development, Okorocha dismissed the allegations, saying they did not make any sense to him.

When contacted, his Media Aide, Sam Onwuemeodo, told The Guardian’s correspondent that he had no comment on the issue, saying: “I have nothing to say. You are stupid. I said you are very stupid.”

signaturetv.org/guardian/IJM

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