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Imo Panel alleges Okorocha spent ISOPADEC funds on campaign

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A PANEL set up by the Imo state government to investigate funds meant for the state’s Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (ISOPADEC) between May 2011 to May 2019 has alleged that former governor, Rochas Okorocha spent the commission’s fund to purchase campaign vehicles and transformers.

The incumbent Imo State governor, Emeke Ihedioha, had in June 2019 set up a committee to audit the state’s treasury.

The eight-man panel led by Romanus Ezeogu presented the committee’s report yesterday at the state’s government house in Owerri, the state’s capital.

Ezeogu’s panel was charged with the responsibility to look into procurement process of ISOPADEC and ascertain whether they were in line with due process, look into the employments of staffs of the commission and make recommendations on officers or members found guilty of abuse of rules and regulations that would strengthen the commission.

Ezeogu in his report stated that apart from spending the commission’s fund for campaign activities, the senator also diverted over N311 billion naira allocated to the commission from the bailout fund, Paris Club refund, local governments’ joint labour salary/pension, and Secondary Education Management Board Account, among others.

Two other former commissioners, who served under Okorocha now members of House of Representatives, Chike Okafor and Paschal Obi were also indicted for misappropriation of ISOPADEC fund.

“At various times, Okafor hijacked the financial autonomy of the commission as finance commissioner. Besides, Obi should explain what he did with the N35m advanced to him as seen in the vouchers submitted to the panel,” the committee chairman explained.

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It could be recalled that in May 2019, the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had said it was investigating Okorocha after his tenure as the governor of Imo State.

A human rights group, Kingdom Foundation International through a petition to the EFCC had also alleged that Okorocha diverted N20 billion naira contracts awarded to one Zigreat International Company Limited and breached the law by avoiding pricing standard that ensures fair competition, transparency, value for money in public sector procurement.

 

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Lukman Abolade is an Investigative reporter with The ICIR. Reach out to him via labolade@icirnigeria.org, on twitter @AboladeLAA and FB @Correction94

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