As the May 29 2019 date when Rochas Okorocha will hand over to the Imo State Governor-elect, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha draws nearer, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has come down heavy on Rochas Okorocha. They announced on Monday (May 20, 2019) that it has frozen the sum of N5bn funds – belonging to the Imo State Government. EFCC said that its action was due to Governor Rochas Okorocha excessive and suspicious manner of spending during the country’s last general elections.
Usman Imam, EFCC Zonal Head (South-East) who fielded questions from journalists alarmed that sum of N8bn Paris Club loan refunded to the state for the payment of salaries has been mismanaged by the outgoing Governor. Imam inferred that the EFCC timely intervention saved the state over N5bn that would have been deployed in vote buying by the Okorocha’s administration during the last elections.
The EFCC Zonal Head also indicated that about N8bn from the Paris Club Refund bailout meant for payment of workers’ salaries was kept by the government, only to begin spending it frivolously on the eve of the elections. “About N7.9bn is what had been blocked, although with pressure, subsequently, about N2.5bn was released for salaries. On the whole, we have over N5bn of those funds blocked; we are following up to see what actually happened,” he asserted.
Providing further insight into the recklessness of outgoing Rochas Okorocha, he said, “Honestly, what we discovered was that within two days, N700m was withdrawn in cash; N200m on the first day and N500m on the second day and all these monies were disbursed in a manner that was honestly unpalatable. Distribution to school teachers; I don’t know, schools that you were not funding and you woke up on the eve of the election and withdrew N500m cash and start distributing N1000 each or so to teachers. Whatever that means, I don’t know.
“When we came in, we were able to save about seventy something million of the funds that we discovered were not disbursed, we also blocked it. People are still answering questions as to who asked them to move those monies, monies that were blocked at the banks,’’ he further revealed.
In a related development, the Imo State Accountant-General, Uzoho Casmir has also been arrested over allegation of aiding Governor Okorocha, to launder the sum of N1.05bn for the Governorship and House of Assembly elections. Recall that Okorocha wanted to force his son-in-law as his successor and at the same time contested for the Senate. While the Imo people rejected his son in-law vehemently, he forced INEC officials to declare him winner of the Senate ticket. Although the INEC representatives declared him winner under duress, the electoral body denied him certificate of return. All of these frustrations may have added up to drive him to allegedly steal all the monies he could from the state before the handover date.