From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Imo State government, yesterday, said it recovered some items belonging to the state government, but allegedly converted to personal use by the former governor of the state, Senator Rochas Okorocha.
The former governor has, however, denied the allegation demanding that the state government show proof.
Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Simon Ebegbulem, said state officials together with a combine team of armed security personnel, stormed a warehouse owned by Okorocha along Aba road, Owerri, where it recovered over 5,000 containers of various accessories belonging to the state carefully concealed in a 200 by 55 feet warehouse. Other items recovered include streetlights accessories, solar panels with their converters, artificial palm tree used in decorating the roads and traffic light equipment.
Also recovered were machines belonging to the defunct state industry, Nsu tiles in Ehime Mbano where the mixer and mould machine were removed and kept in the warehouse.
Briefing journalists after the display of the items which were alleged to have been ooted by Okorocha while leaving office, Ebegbulem said his ministry got wind of the hidden items through a whistle blower. He said the team was shocked to confirm the items when it stormed the warehouse.
“You will recall that Governor Hope Uzodimma earlier raised an alarm that some state government properties were hidden in a warehouse at Aba Road. So when the information got to us, we moved in and this is what we saw. You can see for yourselves, he is planning to set up a ceramic industry with the machines and equipment from our own Nsu tiles by converting it into his own private use,” Ebegbulem said.
“It is our Oga (employer),the former governor that is paying us to stay here, sometimes they come and pick some things from here, but it has been long since they came here,” a guard at the facility, who did not want to be named alleged.
However, Okorocha has called on Governor Hope Uzodimma, and those behind the allegation, to disclose or publish the proof of ownership of all what they claim to have recovered..
Okorocha in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Sam Onwuemeodo, alleged that Governor Uzodimma made the claim to malign him.
“We have read what the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr. Simeon Ibegbulem said were recovered from the warehouse. It was interesting to read that what the commissioner said they recovered from the warehouse were street lights accessories and cartons of tiles,without his disclosing how he arrived at the conclusion that those items were owned by the government.
“The government should disclose or publish the proof of ownership of all they claimed they had recovered. All these cock and bull stories have become irritating. If Governor Uzodinma was not demolishing Okorocha’s projects, he was invading warehouses in his government’s desperation to malign Okorocha.
“And the question is, how would all these help governor Uzodinma in the governance of the state. We have been reluctant to use the word clueless, but the government’s actions and inactions have given reasons to be described as such. If Okorocha wanted to hide any item, could he have done so at a warehouse along the busy Aba road and opposite one of the biggest markets in Owerri, the Alaba International Market. And if after eight years of being governor, what the government could claim to have been looted by Okorocha were street light gadgets and cartons of ties then, those who invaded the warehouse should cover their faces in shame.”