Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
A forensic audit report set up by the State government has revealed a massive fraud perpetrated in the Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (ISOPADEC) where it gathered that N12.3 billion was misappropriated between 2007 and 2020.
Out of the sum, N10 billion claimed to have been used for execution of projects by the commission during the years in review was discovered to be false as the acclaimed projects were non existing according to the report.
The interim forensic audit report which our correspondent obtained, was carried out by Corporate Dev.& Assets Mgt Ltd (CADAM-ANE), duly commissioned by the State government.
A breakdown of some of the findings of the audit report which covers the period 2007 to May 2020 , shows that N3.5 billion was an inexplicable online transfers of ISOPADEC to “sundry payees” from inception in 2007 to January 2020.
Most worrisome of the report was a N3 billion spent between June 2019 and January 2020, while N647 million was spent between 2007 and May 2019.
Further shocking details are that while only 44 transactions under the sub head of unexplained expenditure and on line transfers were carried out in 12 years (2007 to 2018) 88 of such illegal transactions were carried out in less than 8 months (June 2019 to January 2020)
The report also showed that the overall expenditure profile of ISOPADEC within the period under review witnessed an unprecedented high in seven months than in any single year in 12 years.
In 2008 the commission spent N3.1billion, N1.7billion in 2009, N1.4billion in both 2012 and 2013 and N1B in 2017. The rest years from 2007 to 2018 were less than a billion Naira. But between June 2019 to January 2020 alone, less than 8 months, the commission spent N3.3billion.
The report also revealed that huge sums of money were paid to contractors without following due process in direct violation of extant laws, huge serial on line transfers were also made to either unknown or unidentified recipients.
It further shows that payments to contractors were made without any guaranteed APG or certificates earned and that there was no project history, tender records or evidence of approvals from the board as well as lack of adherence to existing protocols on award of contract above N1million.
In summary,the report gave a breakdown of the unaccounted N12.272 billion as comprising of N9.611billion from statutory allocation,Miscellaneous inflows of N2.203B, N410.721million deductions and N48.1 million gifts to staff.
The report also recommended that the state government should take steps for the immediate recovery of the missing N12.272 billion.
Reacting to the report, the State commissioner for information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba who confirmed the government engagement of the audit firm however assured that the government will leave no stone unturned in its efforts to recover the money, while asserting that all those behind the unexcuted contracts will be dealt with according to the law.