Posted by News Express | 13 October 2020 | 1,428 times
By IKENNA SAMUELSON IWUOHA
My nature as a socio-political crusader does not allow me to keep quiet when issues of state and national importance crops up. To this end, I have always reacted to issues of challenge, emergency, rescue, humanity, security, corruption, ethnicity and nationality: no matter whose ox is gored, and damning the consequences.
I have fought corruption to the point that when I was offered political appointment in 2011, as the Senior Special Assistant on Media at the Imo State House of Assembly, I used the position as a platform to propagate my continued fight against corruption. It is on record that I am the only political appointee in the history of Imo State Government that returned unspent public funds 13 good times. An unbeatable, unmatchable and unbreakable legacy, indeed. It is also on record that I am the only political appointee in Imo State that exposed high profile fraud and corruption running into billions of naira, and which involved high ranking office holders. I not only exposed fraud and corruption, I petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with documented evidences.
It is also on record that I exposed how banks and other financial institution have been defrauding the Imo State Government of billions of naira, through tax evasion and other sundry crimes. I am therefore in a better position to talk about the current challenge of N106 billion alleged scam which the Justice Benjamin Iheaka-led Judicial Panel of Inquiry Committee levelled against former Governor Rochas Okorocha, now a serving Senator.
In the first place, Governor Hope Uzodinma did not set up any Judicial Panel of Inquiry to investigate the Rochas Okorocha administration. The panel was set up by Ex-Governor Emeka Ihedioha. Hope Uzodinma merely inherited the panel when he was declared governor, ten months ago, and in the spirit of continuity of government policy refused to dissolve or disband it.
However, while the panel were sitting, Rochas Okorocha reportedly raised alarm that it was on a vendetta mission, because Emeka Ihedioha, who set it up, was his political opponent and enemy. Hence Okorocha reportedly shunned several invitations from the panel. Although other appointees of Okorocha’s government appeared before the panel, including contractors, there are insinuations and suggestions in some quarters that the Benjamin Iheaka-led Judicial Panel of Inquiry lacked competence, expertise, professionalism, skills and exposures, and stand accused of being set on a mission of political vendetta, perhaps not by Governor Hope Uzodinma, but by Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha . . . All things being equal (Ceteris Paribus）.
At this point, let me state that I am not trying to protect Rochas Okorocha, neither am I defending Hope Uzodinma. I am only laying the whole matter on the table.
The question is: Did the Benjamin Iheaka-led Panel of Inquiry visit the various project sites to confirm they were actually executed or otherwise ？ If yes, did they involve technocrats, engineers, quantity surveyors, forensic auditors and other professionals in the project and contract evaluation and verification？ How did the Judicial Panel of Inquiry arrive at the aggregate sum of N106 billion, said to have been diverted by Okorocha？These are questions any rational person must ask in order to arrive at his conclusion.
Nevertheless, since the Judicial Panel Has submitted its report to the State Government, the best approach for Governor Hope Uzodinma should in this circumstance be , to speedily set up a review committee, to be made up professionals like, project managers, project accountants, forensic auditors, estate valuers, quantity surveyors, procurement specialists, contract evaluators, civil engineers, etc, who will then look into the submitted report of the judicial committee, visit the project sites, properly compute the aggregate contract sums, and finally evaluate the credibility and integrity of the report, and properly document their findings in a new report.
This way, the Hope Uzodinma leadership will be on a safer side and not be accused of witch hunting anybody and indeed Owelle Rochas Okorocha in particular.
Also, we must ensure we are coming to equity with clean hands. Although the Benjamin Iheaka Panel was set up by Emeka Ihedioha before his removal as governor by the Supreme Court, we have all seen how he governed Imo State in his almost eight months administration. Alleged high level fraud and corruption and over inflation of contracts have been uncovered as the foundation of the deposed leadership.
Governor Uzodinma should therefore ensure that he is coming to equity with clean hands, while at the same time taking the bull by the horn, by implementing the recommendation of the would-be review committee. There should be no sentiments or sacred cows.
Until then, let the warring factions sheath their swords. I personally view the current media war over the alleged n106 billion scam as unnecessary and diversionary. It is meaningless and targeted at creating tension in the state.
I rest my pen.
•Hon Dr Citizen Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha FCAI, MKDA（Ekenwohia Ndigbo）writes from Owerri.
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