Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Former governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha has described the claim by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that it had recovered N7.9 billion from him, as false and a blackmail, urging the anti-graft agency to retract the allegation and give a true account for the world to judge.
The former governor in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on media, Sam Onwuemeodo in Owerri yesterday, challenged the EFCC to publish the account details where the money recovered was domiciled. The EFCC had on Thursday through its head of Port Harcourt zonal office, Usman Imam alleged that it had recovered N7.9 billion from Okorocha, out of which over N5billion had been returned to the Imo state government.
According to Okorocha, “The EFCC as a commission or Mr Usman Imam as a person and Head of Enugu zone then, and today, that of Port Harcourt zone, of the commission, never recovered N7.9 billion or any other amount of money, from Rochas Okorocha.
“With this denial, we therefore challenge EFCC or Mr. Imam as the one who made the claim, to prove us wrong by publishing details of the bank accounts the money was found and the owners of the accounts.
“We hold the EFCC and its personnel in a very high esteem. And we expect the commission or Mr. Imam to take our denial very serious, because Nigerians of goodwill would like to know who is saying the truth or who is lying.
“Where the commission finds out that it had misinformed the public and had also blackmailed the former Imo governor, perhaps unconsciously, we expect the commission or Mr. Imam to do the needful, which is to retract the media statement and then tell Nigerians the correct story. The N7.9 billion in question must be in bank accounts. Let the EFCC publish the accounts’ details without delay.”
Okorocha also claimed that the properties allegedly marked by the commission both in Imo and Abuja had been acquired by him 20 years ago. He said “Mr Imam talked about properties owned by Okorocha which the commission had marked.” It is also important that Mr. Imam publish those properties because the properties marked had been acquired by Okorocha about twenty years ago. Since Mr. Imam has begun media trial, let the properties be also published for Nigerians to know the truth.”
He recalled that he had alerted members of the public on the propaganda by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) then during the 2019 election of allegations it laid before EFCC of his plot to finance the election of his choice candidate with the state resources, which he said was the basis of the EFCC’s claim. He stated “We have repeatedly told this story, that before the 2019 election, the PDP elements in Imo had written to the EFCC, alleging that Okorocha had planned to use all the state funds to finance the election of his choice candidates.
“The EFCC, leveraging on the petitions, seized all the accounts of the state including the ones meant for the payment of salaries, pensions, severance allowances and so on. We have made this particular claim severally and the EFCC or any other interested person or persons have never faulted our claim.
“It has also been on the basis of these petitions written by the PDP government then led by Chief Emeka Ihedioha against Okorocha and the family, that the EFCC has been on the neck of Okorocha. Even after that government had petitioned the commission and the commission acting on the petitions, the government also instituted more than twelve commissions and panels to probe Okorocha and family, on the same issues or items the EFCC is investigating.”
Okorocha also said that the state government under the current administration had set up panel to probe him. “Some of the panels have submitted their reports to the current government in the state led by Governor Hope Uzodimma while others are still sitting and equally conducting media trials on Okorocha.”