Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Former Imo governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha, yesterday, described Governor Hope Uzodimma as a man weighed down by credibility crisis and struggling for public acceptance.
Okorocha stated this in response to a N106 billion fraud indictment by Justice Benjamin Iheaka-led panel probing contracts awarded during his eight years tenure.
The panel set up by the state government had demanded that the former governor refund the monies which it claimed was fraudulently expended on fictitious contracts.
But Okorocha, in a statement by his spokesperson, Sam Onwuemeodo, refuted the panel’s claim urging that details of its findings be made public.
“For almost nine months on seat, the government in Imo has been struggling for acceptance,” he said of Uzodimma, while alleging that the incumbent governor was complicit in the spending of about N119billion of federation account fund meant for the state.
Said Okorocha: “In his independence day speech the governor said that he inherited systematic fraudulent system from Ihedioha. Two days after, he said that Okorocha should refund N106 billion. 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 said.
The former governor while demanding for the public publication of the report that indicted him, said he did not believe that the chairman of the panel, a judge, could go ahead to submit a report on a matter that was pending at a Federal High Court in which the presiding judge had ordered for the maintenance of the status quo.
“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 Uzodimma should explain what he has done with the N119 billion he has collected from the federation account and N6.4 billion ISOPADEC fund vis-à-vis the IGR.”