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Imo govt sets up three panels to probe Ohakim’s tenure

By Anolu Vincent
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Any moment from now, immediate past governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim, will be invited to throw some light on how he ran the state for four years.

Ohakim will be taken up specifically on the contracts he awarded from May 30, 2007 to May 29, 2011; how the local government areas were administered during his tenure; as well as the creation and functions of the numerous autonomous communities during his regime.

Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has inaugurated three judicial commissions of inquiry to look into the activities of the past government headed by Ohakim as regards those areas.

Also, the state government has reiterated that the recent arrest of two principal functionaries of the present administration by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is “politically motivated”.

Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chinedu Offor, also accused the EFCC of bias.

Okorocha, who inaugurated the committee at the expanded Sam Mbakwe Executive Committee Chambers, Government House, Owerri, at the weekend, said the essence of the commissions was not to witch-hunt anybody.

Okorocha also stated that the terms of reference given to the panels for the assignment is to ascertain the level of jobs done in the state and to quantify if the amounts expended is worth the job executed.

In the terms of reference given to the commission of inquiry into the awards of contracts headed by Hon. Justice Goddy Anunihu, Okorocha charged them to identify all contracts awarded by or on behalf of Imo government or its parastatals, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) within the specified period and ascertain the extent of work done.

He also charged the committee to detect any payment in excess of work done including kickbacks in cash or kind to or received by individuals or organisations as well as payments for which no visible work was performed in respect of any of the contracts awarded from May 30, 2007 to May 29, 2011.

Okorocha also charged the commission of inquiry on local government system headed by Hon. Justice Paul Onumajulu (rtd.) to identify all types of employees in the local government system (temporary, casual, permanent), method of recruitment, staff structure, and staff strength of each local government in the state.

They are also charged to conduct thorough staff audit of the employees/staff of each local government council, including, but not limited to, salary padding, ghost workers, illegal employment of temporary, casual and permanent workers.

Okorocha further charged the commission to appropriate sanctions and also identify income, expenditure and others where there has been corruption, abuse of office or impropriety in disbursement of funds.

The commission on autonomous communities and traditional rulers headed by Hon. Justice T. E. Chukwuemeka Chikeka, is to ascertain whether all the autonomous communities in Imo were ab initio qualified to be given autonomous status in accordance with the law that was in force when they were created.

The commission was further charged by the governor to identify all traditional rulers who have been recognised but were not qualified to be recognised in accordance with the relevant laws, as well as identify all traditional rulers who have been involved in or committed acts/misconducts which are incompatible with their status as monarchs.

The governor also charged it to make recommendations which, in the opinion of the commission, will enhance the effectiveness of the autonomous communities and the traditional institution in the state.

Okorocha assured the commissions of protection under the law in the discharge of the assignment given to them by the state government and told them to render their report in three months time.

Speaking on behalf of the commissions, Onumajulu thanked the governor for finding them worthy to serve in the commissions. He applauded the governor for his choice and assured that the members are going to do their best.

He urged members of the commissions to be up and doing to enable them deliver on time and do a good job for the state.

While affirming that the Commissioner for Finance, Chike Okafor, and the Accountant General, George Eche, are currently with the EFCC, Offor however denied that Okorocha's administration obtained N40 billion loan from Zenith Bank as alleged.

“Imo State Government had at no time obtained a N40 billion loan from Zenith Bank as alleged by EFCC. The allegation in its entirety is false, unfounded and another campaign of calumny designed to divert attention from the probe of the former PDP administration in the state,” Offor said.

The Commissioner pledged that government will at any time throw its doors wide open for EFCC and all anti-graft agencies, as it has nothing whatsoever to hide.

“We are deeply shocked that former Governor Ikedi Ohakim, who only executed three uncompleted projects in the state, is yet to be arrested by the EFCC,” Offor fumed.