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Former Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji in EFCC custody
THEODORE Orji, the immediate past Governor of Abia State, South East Nigeria, is currently being questioned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of embezzlement of public funds.
Orji, who is currently the Senator representing Abia Central Senatorial District, was invited by the EFCC following series of petitions against him, some of which dated back to 2015 when he left office.
Some of the allegations, according to ThisDay newspaper, were that the former governor diverted for his personal use funds meant for the boosting of small and medium businesses in Abia State, under the Small and Medium Enterprises Development initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Orji was also alleged to have embezzled Abia State’s allocation from the Ecological Funds disbursed by the federal government to assist States in tackling environment-related challenges such as erosion, floodings and the likes. It was for a similar offence that the former Governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment in June this year. The sentence was later reduced by the Court of Appeal to 10 years.
Also, Orji was accused of diverting huge sums of money from the Abia State Oil Producing Development Area Commission, the agency that is set up to see to the development of oil-producing areas. He allegedly used the illegally acquired fund to buy properties in various parts of the country.
Spokesman of the EFCC, Tony Orilade, confirmed to newsmen via text message that Orji was still with the commission as at Thursday morning.
“Yes. It is true that we have the former Abia governor with us,” Orilade wrote, providing no further details. “When it is time to press charges, we shall do that and the story will be in the media.”
Orji’s predecessor in office, Orji Uzor-Kalu, is also facing corruption charges brought against him by the EFCC. He is currently in a German hospital, according to his lawyers, where he is said to be recovering from an undisclosed ailment.
Uzor-Kalu’s bail was revoked by the judge handling his trial because he left for Germany without informing the court and obtaining the judge’s permission.