Rochas Okorocha yesterday rejected the report of the Justice Benjamin Iheaka panel of inquiry into the contracts awarded by his administration in Imo State from 2011 to 2019.
The panel on Monday claimed that it uncovered fraudulent contracts worth N106 billion during the period under review. Submitting the report to Governor Hope Uzodimma at Government House, Owerri, Iheaka claimed that they discovered that non-existing companies were used for siphoning government funds to the tune of N106 billion, with due process not followed while awarding the contracts.
The committee recommended that the governor should recover the money from the contractors and civil servants involved in the alleged fraud.
But Okorocha in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media), Sam Onwuemeodo, challenged the state government to publish the verbatim report of the panel.
The representative of Imo West in the Senate accused the Uzodimma administration of battling for acceptance by Imo people. “We challenge the government in Imo 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,” the statement said.
“No serious panel would have made such a recommendation. It could only take a ‘Ben Johnson’ panel to do that. Let the government publish the list of the contractors who handled contracts under Okorocha, state the contracts they did, how much they were paid, how they were paid and what they should have been paid in the estimation of the panel.”
The legislator asked Uzodimma to account for N119 billion federation allocation and N6.4 billion Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (ISOPADEC) fund.
Okorocha said Imo people were missing him, because the Uzodimma government had disappointed them.He challenged the administration to surpass his achievements in infrastructural development.
The ex-governor questioned the panel’s decision to submit the report when the Federal High Court, Abuja, had stopped it from doing so. Okorocha had approached the court to stop the panel from probing him on the ground that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was probing him on the same issues.
However, Uzodimma clarified that the panel only focused on the contracts awarded by the Okorocha government. He said the Achike Udenwa and Ikedi Ohakim administrations were not covered contrary to some reports.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser, Oguwike Nwachuku, the governor said:
“The mix-up arising from the duration of the probe – 2011 to 2019, not from 2006 to 2019 – is highly regretted.”
Meanwhile, Uzodimma yesterday constituted the boards of four agencies, according to a statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Cosmas Iwu.
Chief Charles Orie as Managing Director heads the Imo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (ISOPADEC). Dr. Prosper Ohayagha is the Chairman of Imo State Specialist Hospital, Owerri, while Heartland Football Club board is led by Chief Charles Ezekwem. The board of the Imo State Primary Healthcare Development Agency is headed by Ikechukwu Okonkwo.