George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
The Justice Benjamin Iheaka led judicial panel on contract awards disclosed that non-existing and phoney companies were used to siphoned N106 billion of government funds by previous administrations in Imo State.
This is as the panel has tasked the State Government to recover the funds from the contractors and individuals who played key roles in the contracts scam.
The past administration of Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha had set up the judicial panel to Investigate contracts awarded between 2006 and 2019.
Justice Iheaka who made the disclosure yesterday while submitting its report at the Executive Chambers, Government House explained that ‘there were monumental fraud that were orchestrated by the contractors in the period under review with strong collusion with some civil servants who helped in the fraud which was evidenced in over-pricing of the value of the contracts executed in the State.’
The report said that there were fragrant disregard for due process and the rules of Bureau for Public Procurement Act in the Imo State which was exhibited in ‘outrageous contract pricing and shady contract executions as well as payment for non performing contracts.’
Justice Iheaka also said there were evidences of non-existing and phoney companies that were used to siphon State Government funds to the tune of N106billion.
The Chairman appealed to the Governor not to sweep their report and recommendations under the carpet, but to do whatever is in his power to ensure that those indicted are made to return the monies.
The Commission indentified some civil servants who were honest, dedicated and resisted every pressure by the contract scammers to use their offices to defraud the State Government during the period under review.
Receiving the report, Governor Uzodinma assured that all those indicted and identified in the report as having played a role in frittering away public funds through criminal ways will be made to return them.
He said the opportunity will be given to them to return the monies as the State is in dire need of funds to deal with pressing developmental issues in the face of dwindling resources.
The Governor assured that in few days government will set-up a Review Committee that will look at the documents submitted by the Commission and produce a Whitepaper that will give Government the actual direction to follow in implementing the report in full.
He said the mood in the State indicates that the people are anxious to know what government will do with the report and others before it.
He assured the Chairman and his members that much as Government will not witch-hunt anyone unnecessarily, it will definitely not shy away from implementing to the letter, the recommendations on those who willfully fleeced the State of her scarce resources to serve as a deterrent to future criminals.
He commended the members for taking time to do a thorough job considering the intricacies of their assignment which warranted their visiting project sites and asking difficult questions and said Government will surely show appreciation for their sacrifices.