Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
A former Governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha, has challenged the justice Benjamin Iheaka led panel probing contracts awarded during his tenure to the tune of N106 billion.
The said panel, which indicted the ex-Governor, has asked him to refund the said amount, which it claimed was fraudulently expended on fictitious contracts.
But Okorocha, reacting through his media adviser, Sam Onwuemeodo, has refuted the allegations, urging the panel and the Governor to make their claim public.
‘We challenge the government in Imo, 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,’ he stated.
‘No serious panel would have made such recommendation. It could only take a “Ben Johnson” panel to do that. 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.
‘Governor Uzodinma should explain what he has done with the N119 billion he has collected from the federation account and N6.4 billion ISOPADEC fund. Vis-a-viz the IGR. The Governor said he came through “Ben Johnson” way and since January 14, 2020, when he came on board, all his actions and utterances have been “Ben Johnson” way.
‘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 have someone made away with N106 billion and still do such befitting projects,’ Okorocha stated.
‘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.
‘For almost nine months on the seat, the Government in Imo has been struggling for acceptance. In his Independence Day speech, the Governor said that he inherited a systematic fraudulent system from Ihedioha. Two days after, he said that Okorocha should refund N106 billion. Some days ago, it was that Okorocha’s appointees joined Uzodinma.’