A report by an investigative panel in Imo State revealed that a former governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha, allegedly diverted over N6 billion from the Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (ISOPADEC).
This was contained in a report by the panel which said N6,044,774,341.37 of the agency’s funds could not be accounted for, the Nation newspaper reports.
The report comes about seven months after the panel was set up to carry out the investigation.
The current state governor, Emeka Ihedioha, had in June 2019, set up the eight-man panel to probe the activities of Mr Okorocha’s administration.
He had mandated the committee to, among other things, conduct a forensic audit on the accounts of the state domiciled in several banks.
Mr Ihedioha also asked the panel to ascertain and document the locations of and balances on all bank accounts operated by Imo State Government, its Ministries, Departments, and Agencies as of May 29, 2019.
In the report submitted on Wednesday, the panel alleged that citizens and some managing directors colluded with the immediate-past governor to misappropriate ISOPADEC funds.
Romanus Ezeogu, a retired permanent secretary who led the panel, said the Okorocha-led administration handled the funds of ISOPADEC within his eight-year tenure, “from the pit of wickedness.”
The shortfall in revenue accrual from the federation accounts unaccounted for stood at N6, 044, 774, 341.37 and the panel found a systematic diversion of the funds, he said.
He asked that Mr Okorocha be held responsible.
“Simply put, what happened translates to the fact that after diverting the commission’s for whatever purpose, the bare-faced administration of Rochas Okorocha would grab funds from other institutions to make up or cover his misappropriation of funds.
“The issue here begs for an explanation on what happened to the original 40 per cent monthly derivation fund allocated to the ISOPADEC. Rochas Okorocha should roundly be held responsible for the entire fund missing.
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“The law establishing ISOPADEC provides its funding from the 13 per cent derivation from the federation accounts and not from other sources,” he said.
Mr Ezeogu said the panel also discovered the arbitrary release of funds close to the incumbent’s inauguration.
About N422 million was released to a firm for the supply of pre-inauguration vehicles and N200 million was hurriedly released for the purchase of transformers during the campaign, he explained.
On the construction of the failed Marine University, he disclosed that the project gulped N402 million. This, he described as a mirage.
While he appreciated the efforts of the panel, Governor Ihedioha promised to look into the report to pass a white paper on it – even as he assured that it is not a witch-hunt.
Okorocha who is now a senator, on his side , said the allegation was false and designed to damage his legacy.
His media adviser, Sam Onwuemeodo, who described the report as a hoax, said the lawmaker said it reflects the desperation of the Ihedioha-led administration to obliterate his legacies and incite the state against him, and to blind the people to his ineptitude.
‘What Mr Okorocha did for the oil-producing communities for eight years, the PDP administration did not do a quarter of it for 12 years,’ he claimed.
“Before now ISOPADEC was operating in a rented apartment but Okorocha built a multi-billion naira office for the Commission. Also during the PDP era, the people from the oil-bearing communities never knew what was happening in the Commission.
“It was Owelle Rochas Okorocha that empowered youths from the area and appointed them into key positions in the Commission. It is on record that Okorocha, during his time, ended militancy in the area through the disarmament of militants and the eventual empowerment programme,” he was quoted saying.
He further said Mr Ihedioha is running a government of vendetta and is not prepared for governance.
“He is only here to fight Okorocha and family, while other governors have moved on. He has no policy; he is running an internet government, where projects are only executed on Facebook.
“He is only labouring to tarnish Okorocha’s image. It has become obvious that he has no program for the state.”
I’ll Abide By My Suspension — Oluwo
The Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrosheed Akanbi has said he would adhere to the suspension issued on him by Osun State Traditional Rulers’ Council last week Friday.
Oluwo was suspended after an emergency meeting by Osun State Traditional Rulers’ Council that Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi presided over.
The Council also banned the monarch from attending its meetings on the ground that he disrespected Ooni, Alake of Egba and Alaafin of Oyo.
In a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to Oluwo, Alli Ibraheem which was made available to newsmen in Osogbo on Monday expressed regrets about the faceoff between Oluwo of Iwo and Agbowu of Ogbaagba.
The statement read, “The Oluwo in council regrets the unfortunate incidence that transpired between the Agbowu of Ogbaagbaa and Oluwo of Iwo last week.
“We will also like to put it on record that the Oluwo did not at any time assault the Agbowu or any other Oba for that matter. However, we respect the decision of the Osun state council of Obas to suspend the Oluwo from the council of Oba’s meetings; though the suspension was harsh and undeserved, the Oluwo will abide by it.
“Once again we express our gratitude and respect for the council of Obas and the leadership under the imperial majesty, the Ooni Of Ife, Oba Babatunde Enitan ogunwusi.”
FG To Refund Money Spent On Federal Projects By Rivers Govt
The Federal Government has assured the Government and people of Rivers State that it will effect a refund of monies expended on Federal Projects in the state.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike led the Federal Executive Council Verification Team on a tour of listed projects in the state on Monday.
Addressing journalists after embarking on the verification of Federal Road Projects executed by the Rivers State Government on behalf of the Federal Government, Minister of State for Education, Hon Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba said that the Buhari Administration will always abide by set rules.
He said: “The Federal Government has always cooperated with the people of Rivers State. Rivers State is the strongest economic base of the country and anything that the Government will do for the Government and people of Rivers State, the Federal Government will respond accordingly
“The President is a stickler for the rules. We have addressed this everywhere, except for five states, that we are now verifying. No state has had an issue.”
The Minister said that the Rivers State Government over the years did a splendid work in the construction of key projects in the state.
“Terrific work has been done by the Government and people of Rivers State on behalf of the Federal Government.
“The Governor has taken us on extensive review of more than the six projects that we came to inspect,” he said.
He expressed happiness with the tour of Federal Road Projects executed by the Rivers State Government.
He said: “I am glad we took time out to go and see all of them and verify them physically. We are really sure that the State Government has done what is right.”
In an interview with journalists after the Joint Verification Exercise, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike said he is confident that the Federal Government will effect a refund.
He said: “The Minister has come with his team and I believe they will refund us the funds expended on the road.
“We have made submissions for refund, but we are yet to receive any refund from the Federal Government. I believe this last verification will come to fruition. I have confidence that they will refund us the money expended on Federal Projects.”
Wike said if the Federal Government fails to effect the refund as promised, the Rivers State Government will raise an alarm.
“If they don’t refund, we will raise alarm and tell the world to help us ask we are being denied the refund.
“Now we are talking of governance and we need these funds to do more projects for our people. He has given us assurance that the Federal Government will effect a refund this time around”, he said.
The tour commenced at the over 41.26 kilometre dualisation of the Airport-Isiokpo-Elele/Omerelu road, the reconstruction of Ikwerre road from Education to Agip flyover junction,
construction of flyover at Agip-Rumueme-Abacha roundabout and the
construction of flyover on East-west road at Obiri-Ikwerre with rotary turning and service lanes.
The verification team also visited the construction of Eleme junction flyover and interchange and the construction of Ada George road phase one and two.
Wike also led the team on an inspection of Flyover Bridges under construction by the Rivers State Government.
Senator Gaidam Finally Reveals Why He Sponsored Bill For Creation Of Boko Haram Agency
Yobe-born Senator, Ibrahim Gaidam has revealed why he sponsored a “Bill for an Act to establish a National Agency for the education, de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration of repentant insurgents”.
The lawmaker who addressed a press conference in Abuja, said the bill was sponsored to help repentant insurgents re-enter mainstream politics, religion and society.
Gaidam wrote: “Bill for an Act to establish a National Agency for the education, de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration of repentant insurgents would promote reconciliation and national unity.
“The agency when established will provide an avenue for rehabilitating, de-radicalizing, and reintegrating the defectors, repentant and forcefully conscripted members of the insurgent group Boko Haram to make them useful members of the society.
“Provide an avenue for reconciliation and promote national security.
“Provide an-open-door and encouragement for other members of the group who are still engaged in the insurgency to abandon the group, especially in the face of the military pressure.
“Allow the government to derive insider-information about the insurgency group for greater understanding of the group and its inner workings.
“Gaining a greater understanding of the insurgents will enable the government to study the needs of de-radicalization effort, improve the process and address the immediate concerns of violence.
“Enable Government to use the defectors to fight the unrepentant insurgents.
“Help disintegrate the violent and poisonous ideology that the group spreads as the program will allow some repentant defectors or suspect terrorists to express remorse over their actions repent and recant their violent doctrine and in the long run, re-enter mainstream politics, religion and society.
“If defectors told their stories and were made more public, their experiences would play a key role in countering Terrorist propaganda, which in turn would lessen the appeal of joining the group.”
The Senator representing Yobe East further stated that establishment of the agency will help the Federal Government cut the cost of incarceration, render extremist movements obsolete by undermining the foundations upon which the movements were built and also make repentant terrorists become useful members of the society.
Gaidam added: “In view of the fact that the Boko Haram insurgency is becoming increasingly aggressive since its inception in 2009, marked by extreme brutality and explicit targeting of civilians…it has become necessary for us to go back to the drawing board and adopt an alternative approach, in addition to the military option which has so far performed significantly well.
“There is no doubt that many members of the insurgents’ group have defected and many more are willing to repent given a window of opportunity and this is confirmed by many organizations including NGO’s that have unalloyed access to the Boko Haram.
“There is the need for a more strategic and comprehensive approach to entice those members of the group who, after realizing the futility of the course they are pursuing have eventually decided to voluntarily lay down their arms and chose the path of peace.
“Hence, the need for the establishment of the National Agency for the Rehabilitation, De-radicalization and reintegration of repentant insurgents to accommodate the defectors.
“The agency when established shall be charged with the responsibility of the planning, designing and organizing specialized programs aimed at deradicalizing, rehabilitating and reintegrating defectors and repentant insurgents.
“Those who have become weary of the perpetual violence and have voluntarily laid down their arms and defected from the group will be accepted and rehabilitated using various tools of deradicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration.
“In contrast, those captured active in the battlefields will be required to, in addition to the psychological therapy, participate in the criminal justice process.
“In dealing with the insurgency, Nigerian Government needs to introduce both preventive and corrective measures in addressing violent extremism.”