EFCC explains seizure of Imo govt’s N5bn days before elections
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has explained why it withheld N5 billion belonging to the Imo State Government a few days to the governorship and house of assembly elections.
EFCC’s Zonal Head for South-East, Usman Imam, in a chat with journalists Monday evening, said the funds were seized because Imo State governor Rochas Okorocha was spending too much money in a suspicious manner on the eve the general elections.
“Honestly, what we discovered was that within two days, N700m was withdrawn in cash; N200m on the first day and N500m on the second day and all these monies were disbursed in a manner that was honestly unpalatable,” Imam said.
Imam said the seizure of funds saved the state over N5bn that would have been deployed in vote buying by the Okorocha’s administration during the last elections.
The EFCC director said 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 just before the elections.
EFCC had arrested Imo State accountant-general Uzoho Casmir for allegedly laundering N1.05bn.
“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,” Imam said.
“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 said the funds will be released to the governor-elect Emeka Ihedioha when he resumes office.
“The sad story about this was that these monies were the intervention funds; the bailout funds that the Federal Government released to states to pay salaries when they were having problems paying salaries,” Imam.
“They didn’t utilise that money to pay the salaries. They warehoused it and kept it until the election period, they started attempting to draw down the money. Whatever happens, we have saved over N5bn of that money, as we talk, two weeks to handover. Probably, the next government would have that money to use it better.”