EFCC arrests Gov Okorocha's top aides For diverting N2b bailout fund
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission says it has uncovered a high-level fraud allegedly perpetrated by some aides to the Imo State Governor, Mr. Rochas Okorocha.
To this end, the EFCC has arrested the Principal Secretary to the Governor, Dr. Pascal Obi; and two others — Uzoho Casmir and Iheoma Kenneth, who were described by the EFCC as the director of finance and treasurer.
The anti-graft agency did not disclose the exact establishment Casmir and Kenneth were working for.
The anti-graft agency said in a statement by its spokesperson, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, on Thursday, that the suspects allegedly diverted N2bn which was the bailout fund given to the state by the Federal Government for the payment of salary arrears of civil servants.
An unnamed cashier of the government was alleged to have made cash withdrawal of N456.532m between September 3, 2015, and October 10, 2015, from the Government House account in Zenith Bank.
However, it was revealed that the said amount was given to an aide to the Chief of Staff to the Governor, following an approval and directive by the Principal Secretary to the governor.
The EFCC said the suspects would be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.
The statement read in part, “Operatives of the EFCC on Wednesday, March 2, 2016 arrested three top officials of the Imo State Government for allegedly diverting the sum of N2bn bailout fund given to the state by the Federal Government for the payment of salary arrears of the state's civil servants.
“Their arrest followed an investigation into the alleged diversion of the said money which revealed that the cashier had made cash withdrawal of N456.532m between September 3, 2015 and October 10, 2015 from the Government House account in Zenith Bank.”
Okorocha had, in September last year, announced the appointment of some officials to manage the N26bn fund.
Those appointed were the Secretary to the State Government, Jude Ejiogu; and Okorocha's son-in-law that doubles as his Chief of Staff, Uche Nwosu.
When contacted on the telephone, the Commissioner for Information, Chief Chidi Ibe, said he had not been briefed on the arrest of Okorcha's aides and thus could not comment on it.
Ibe, however, said the state only owed two months' salaries.
He said, “We currently owe January and February salaries alone. On the arrest you spoke about, I heard about it but I have not been briefed.”
Meanwhile, there are indications that the EFCC will soon start discreet investigations into the utilisation of bailout funds by the remaining 18 states governments.
The PUNCH gathered that the commission would not exclude any of the 19 states that got bailout funds from the Federal Government last year from the investigations.