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EFCC, stripping Okorocha of his many assets

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Governor Rochas Okorocha

Shortly after the former governor, Rochas Okorocha left office on May 29th, there were allegations regarding the looting of state assets by his aides. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo State alleged that N200b was looted from state coffers.

A group that calls itself the Association of Imo State Indigenous Town Unions (AISITU) in collaboration with some socio-cultural organisations, students unions, led by Chief Emeka Diwe also called for the probe of Okorocha to recover government property, which he converted to private use.

According to them, “the eight years that Chief Rochas Okorocha held sway as governor of Imo State were characterized by unprecedented and unbridled plunder of our common patrimony. We have come to demand justice.”

The group listed items they want Governor Emeka Ihedioha to recover from Okorocha to include: “The N21.6b taken from the local government system of the State; the Eastern Palm University built with our money but personalized by Okorocha; the N96b being the stolen portion of Imo’s IGR for eight years; over N40b looted through the failed 27 general hospital projects; the Old IBC premises at Orji; the Nekede and Orji Mechanic Villages; the Adapalm in Ohaji; the Concorde Hotels and the Westbrook Hotels, which is linked to Okorocha’s son-in-law, Uche Nwosu.”

Others are, “WODDI Wellness Center owned by Okorocha’s wife, Nkechi, built on the former Imo State Secretariat Annex, a land forcefully acquired from the state by Uche Nwosu as Commissioner for Lands; the Reach FM owned by Uche Nwosu, without any know legitimate means of owning such huge property; the multi-billion Naira Farmers’ Market built by Geraldine Obinali, Okorocha’s sister, on a land belonging to the state; over twenty-five plots state land acquired by Uche Nwosu upon which El Freeda Foundation was built. This is the Foundation through which billions of Naira have been laundered out of the state; Extervia Mega Supermarket opposite Civic Center Estate owned by Ogechi Ololo, Okorocha’s sister and the Municipal Plaza owned by Nkechi Okorocha, built on land forcefully acquired from a civil servant by Uche Nwosu.”

The group also listed; Twitter Bites Fast Food acquired by Geraldine Okorocha forcefully from Mr. Fans; Spibat Estate, most of which land was forcefully taken from Mbieri people by Okorocha; House of Freeda Malls in Owerri, Abuja and Lagos built by Uloma, Uche Nwosu’s wife; a mighty poultry farm beside Shoprite owned by Uche Nwosu on a land forcefully acquired; over N800m given to Okorocha’s sister, Geraldine per annum, for Christmas trees; the N600m diverted through the supposed renovation of the Imo State Secretariat and the N18b looted through the alleged construction of primary school blocks across the state.

Also included in their list were, “all the markets in the state which Okorocha has claimed 30percent ownership of; the ISOPADEC funds and the 13percent oil derivation funds, which amounted to over N20b; the cardboard industry at Owerri-Ebeiri in Orlu; the N2b diverted through the construction of the completely worthless Akachi Tower IRROMA equipment worth billions of Naira, ITC vehicles among others.

At the first stakeholders meeting in the state held last week, Ihedioha told Imolites that his administration is mindful of the many lootings he alleged was perpetrated by the immediate past government and assured that efforts are on to ensure accountability and transparency henceforth.

He also used the opportunity to remind those who are in custody of the assets of the state to return them voluntarily, pointing out his administration is committed to recovering all looted assets to be used for the general good of the people.

His words: “When we were campaigning, we honestly underestimated the quantum of rot in the state and the deep hole of corruption and mindless misappropriation perpetrated by the last administration. Contracts were most times awarded orally and without documentation, no paper trail and without the input of relevant government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies.

“Our interim findings show a consistent pattern of massive looting and stripping of public assets, dismantling and carting away of public property such as electric poles, vehicles, trucks, office equipment, and furniture, etc. There was a last-minute illegal sale of government property at giveaway prices and unlawful allocation of land, including the backdating of Certificates of Occupancy. Instances of mindlessly withdrawing cash from government accounts in commercial banks without due process, as well as illegally recruiting and promoting civil servants, were commonplace.”

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) came to town last week, to seal off some property belonging to Okorocha, his relatives and cronies.

These properties as contained in a statement by the anti-graft agency are; Dews of Hope Hospital traced to Dr. Paschal Obi, ex-principal Secretary to Okorocha; Market Square Supermarket and All in One Shop linked to his wife, Nkechi Okorocha; premises belonging to Imo State Broadcasting Corporation now hosting Rochas Foundation College owned by Okorocha.

Others are East High Academy and East High College, owned by Okorocha’s daughter, Uloma Okorocha-Nwosu and Royal Spring Palm Hotel and Apartment, a 16 block cum 96 flats and eight bungalows multi-million Naira estate traced to Okorocha’s wife.

Defending their action, the EFCC said: “the marking of the properties, which is a fall-out of our painstaking investigation, is as a result of the failure of the suspects to honour the Commission’s invitation for questioning on the propriety of their acquisition.”

Also, reacting to the claim that EFCC acted illegally, the Commission said at no time did it harass or raid anyone in the course of marking the properties, as its operatives, in line with best practices, informed the occupants of the facilities in good time, before taking the action.

Imolites are waiting to see how far this case would go.


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