The Ugly Side of Executive Immunity to Governors

| January 25, 2013 | 0 Comments

okorocha

 – By Dr. Kelechi Okpaleke

Today January 24 2013, the Governor of Imo State, his Excellency Ethelbert Anayo Okorocha (aka Rochas) has embarked on an official visit to the United State purely for the purpose of retail propaganda against his predecessor.

The governor of Imo State has engaged in this journey at the same time the speaker and deputy speaker of the Imo House of Assembly have ran away to India in order to avoid EFCC’s arrest.

On Thursday January 23rd 2013, EFCC arrested the clerk of the Imo House of Assembly. The Arrest of the clerk of Imo House of Assembly has to do with the N13.3 bond money left by Governor Ikedi Ohakim. The bond money was taken for income yielding infrastructural investment such as the Imo connectivity motor way which transverses 19 Local Government from Sam Mbakwe airport in Ngor Okpala to Oguta wonder Lake and which included thirteen toll gates and wonder lake project.

Bonds from the capital market are significantly lower than the loans from Commercial Banks in terms of interest rate. Generally, Commercial Bank interest rates in Nigeria hover around anywhere between 22%-27%, but bonds are generally under double digit interest rates.

This is why bonds are specifically tied to a development project and strictly monitored by the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). Imo was approved for 40 Billion Development Bond and the first tranche of N18.5 was released in the tail end of the Ohakim’s administration. Out of the N18.5b released, Governor Ikedi used N5.2b and the evidence can be seen in the renovation of the Oguta Lake motel and the 70% completion of the dual carriage Imo inter connectively motor way.

Upon the declaration of Governor Okorocha, Ikedi Ohakim handed over a total of 23 Billion Naira and this was captured in the hand over note, an

official government document. The breakdown of the monies handed over to the new of Governor Okorocha’s administration is as follows:

Ø 13.3B bond money

Ø N3B SUBEB money in SUBEB account

Ø N6B in local government joint local government account

Ø N1B in Education Trust Fund Account

Ø N5B in Agric loan account

None of these funds were captured in 2012 or the 2013 appropriation bill before the Imo House of Assembly and Investigation revealed that these funds had been spent without being captured in any budget law.

Sometime in the middle of last year, I posted on the Igboville page that Ikedi Ohakim’s administration left N13.3b bond money to the present governor. This post was in response to the continued vilification of the administration I served, based on propaganda and not facts. A lot of eyebrows were raised. Most commentators on the Igboville page did not believe me and I was called choice names by some of these commentators. Some of the commentators on Igboville page are diasporians under the pay of Okorocha’s government.

When members of the Okorocha’s administration became aware of the post, they started denying that Ohakim left any bond money. This prompted a petition to EFCC to investigate. It was found out that the money had been spent. During the pendency of EFCC’s investigation, Imo government via the office of the commissioner for finance applied to SEC for change of purpose. It was promptly denied. The denial was appealed. Meanwhile, immediately the application for the change of purpose, for the first time, the commissioner for finance admitted in a sun news paper publication that Ikedi Ohakim’s administration actually left 13.3b of bond money, but that the administration of Okorocha had applied for a change of purpose.

Because the change of purpose was applied after the money had been illegally embezzled, EFCC then started a new investigation to find out if the money was still at the UBA account which was the bond account. It was discovered that the money had been withdrawn and no trace of the money in any other account meaning that the money had been used. A further investigation revealed that such huge amount of money was not captured in any appropriation bill.

This was part of the reason for the arrest and detention of the commissioner for Finance and the state’s accountant general.

Meanwhile, the cover-up started in earnest and now Okorocha involved the Imo House of Assembly.

The House of Assembly forged a House document signed by the clerk which it claimed was a resolution by the House, given the executive the power to divert the bond funds to other uses.

The State Commissioner for information in Sun Newspaper of Tuesday January 22 2013 came out and stated that the bond money was used to build a classroom block in the 305 INEC wards of Imo State.

However, completed classroom blocks are in less than 20 wards of the state. Also, when the Governor informed Imo people that he had leased or sold Adapalm to Roche, for N3.5b, he did state at the time that Roche would use the 3.5billion to build school blocks in the N305 INEC wards of the state. This is why the N3.5b of Adapalm was not captured in any appropriation bill as income to Imo State.

It has also emerged that the Owerri Township School on Wethdral Road built by Roche was paid for with the SUBEB money left by the Ohakim’s administration (N3b).

The clerk of Imo House of Assembly entered the dragnet of EFCC as a result of signing a forged Imo House resolution document that never took place. Meanwhile the speaker and his deputy have both escaped to India to avoid EFCC’s arrest.

The Governor as a result of his immunity cannot be touched or questioned by EFCC and have decided to embark on retail propaganda to the United States with CD tapes of his propaganda allegation against his predecessor.

Propaganda can only take one so far because facts don’t lie.

Okoroche is convinced that he won election by the false vilification of Governor Ikedi Ohakim and anytime he is in trouble, he must resort back to attacking Ikedi Ohakim.

For the first time in about 18-19 months of his stewardship of Imo State, attacking Ikedi Ohakim will not safe him. For the first time Ikedi Ohakim has come out and responded to the allegations by Okorocha and his cohorts and challenged them to name and substantiate with documentary records, the claimed Five Star Hotel in South Africa alleged to be owned by him, the houses both in Nigeria and elsewhere alleged to be owned by him.

As one who was a sojourn in the United State for over 26 years, I know the thirst for information from Home. I also know that because of this thirst for information from home, we are prone to be victims of propaganda, official or otherwise. I learnt from a very long time that the only way to navigate the Nigerian information industry is to trust but verify. In Nigeria, there is no difference or distinction between official information and official propaganda.

Taking thousands of propaganda CD tapes to hawk to unsuspecting citizens of Imo Sate in Diaspora by the Governor of Imo State vindicates my assertion that there is no distinction between official information and official propaganda.

For those of you not on the ground in Imo State, Trust the information retailed to you but ensure that you verify by placing a call to our people at home.

This, my brothers and sisters, is my only advice.

May the Good Lord Shepherd our great state of Imo.

Dr. K.C. Okpalaeke writes from Owerri, Imo state

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