In the early days of this week, the Nigeria media were awash and agog with news of seal-off of some of the properties of the former Governor of Imo State, Chief Ethelbert Anayo Okorocha, his family members and perhaps siblings and cronies. This EFCC said is to enable the anti-graft agency carry out investigation into the Governor’s activities in the state with intent to confiscate or release some of these properties for which the present government had already constituted a committee on recovery of looted properties, which had long swung into action causing Chief Okorocha to raise false alarm that the agents of this government have been harassing his wife and siblings.
At his first Exco meeting at the Douglas House, Owerri, the sitting Governor, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha said that “he underestimated” the quantum of rot in Imo after glancing at reports of preliminary investigation carried out by the government agencies and we agree with him.
As we all know, the immediate past Governor Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha, is now a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, representing Imo West Senatorial Zone on the platform of the ruling party, All Progressive Congress (APC) and by the letters of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, enjoys some form of privileges.
We suspect that the present EFCC actions may be a ruse and a ploy to distract the other agencies set up in Imo state or slowdown their actions or investigation. We are worried that for the past four years, there have been public outcries, complaints, media reports and group protests over Okorocha’s highhandedness, improprieties and non-adherence to due process and outright disobedience to the rule of law as well as defiant of court orders.
This medium was dragged to court and their offices invaded and ransacked while their personnel were incarcerated for querying what happened to the peoples commonwealth, especially the various tranches of bailout fund doled out to the state to cushion the effects of economic crunch on the citizens with emphasis on payment of workers salaries and payment of arrears of pension and gratuity owed Imo retires which he, Okorocha admitted to run into several billions, yet he could not pay these ailing elder statesmen but could find money to gallivant all over the globe in expensive private jets, host world leaders in special expensive carnivals, spend the tax payers money to mould an expensive statue for the discredited South African leader, Jacob Zuma, who is still standing trial for treasury looting and others. Each year, he spent over N600 million to erect a Christmas tree. We had expected the EFCC, the ICPC and the DSS to have taken earlier actions, based on public complaints and whistle blowing through the media.No doubt Okorocha enjoyed immunity clause as enshrined in our constitution as governor,what about his footsoldiers?Why did’nt EFCC arrest them and charge them to court with the evidences to their disposal?
We are aware that the Nigeria Barr Association, Nigeria Medical Association, the Nigeria Society of Engineers, with the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, Independent Publishers Association with the Nigeria Union of Journalists had separately raised their voices high enough to attract the attention of these agencies to the massive corruption that was going on in the state, where the Governor and cronies were running several accounts for the state revenues and the peoples monies were allegedly laundered abroad in Turkey, Singapore, Dubai, US, South Africa, China and so on. We do not talk of the massive property loot, illegal seizure, racketeering and acquisition of public lands.
However, it is often said that “better late than never”, it is our firm belief that now that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has finally stepped in, the people expect a thorough job of investigation. The Code of Conduct Bureau, the ICPC and DSS should begin their own separate investigation.
We urge the Ihedioha led government to also institute a state body for public interest to come out with detailed and comprehensive report on Rescue Mission activities in Imo State.
We are suspicious that the recent EFCC “seal-off” of Senator Okorocha’s properties is aimed at preserving or protecting them from the plying eyes of the government and the public of Imo State, only to give him a clean-bill of health at the end of the day. He is an APC Senator. While Okorocha claimed that the anti-graft agency is after his properties, EFCC through it’s mouthpiece in Enugu stated that, there was nothing like that but rather what they did was only to notify the occupants of the properties on their intention to seal-off these properties, they stated that those involved and affected by their decision refused to honour earlier invitations extended to them inspite of eye popping evidence against them.
The statement reads in part, “the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) wishes to state that it’s Enugu Zonal Office on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, marked some properties traced to the former Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, as well as those of his family members and cronies. 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 investigation for questioning on the propriety of their acquisition”.