Miss Chinyere Uwandu, Mbaitolu LGA born aide of Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha who was arrested in connection with the N650 million pension scam in Imo state, has since been released by the EFCC.
Her release stems from her complete exoneration from any form of complicity or direct involvement in diverting such whopping sum of money. Miss Uwandu who has been very close to Okorocha since the early 2000, when she joined Rochas Political Action Group (ROPAG) was unexpectedly appointed Chairman of the Imo pension board, though she lacked the pre-requisite, academic qualifications and administrative experiences. As a spinster, it was unheard of that she could preside over the affairs and issues affecting the aged and retiree civil servants.
Her appointment like those of many others which have brought total ruin to the Rescue Mission Administration was a reward for her closeness to the Governor. Chinyere Uwandu has continuously been appointed into one lucrative office or the other since 2011, despite the fact that the output was abysmal, and disgraceful.
Late last year, the Governor appointed Chinyere Uwandu as Chairman of the states pensions board but that was when the fortunes of the pensioners in Imo state started nose diving. The Governor did not only complain that whereas many of the pensioners were dying in their large numbers, but explained that the pension wage bill was increasing astronomically.
Even with the drastic reduction of 60% pension due each pensioner, Governor Okorocha refused or reneged to pay the pensioners who were dying of hunger and deprivation as at when due. It took several protests, at venues of unending verification exercises and lately an industrial court’s order compelling the Governor to cancel the proposed deduction of 60% of monthly pension before Okorocha could muster the compassion to resume payment.
This time he ordered all the pensioners including those who are bedridden to appear before him at IICC, Owerri if they wished to receive their cheques. It was therefore an eyesore when the retirees most of who were in stretchers, wheel chairs, were ushered before the “governor”, who personally gave out the cheques. Unfortunately for the Governor, Chinyere Uwandu, had supervised the worst form of the pension administration in the world, with many of the cheques inserted with outrageous amounts contrary to what each beneficiary was entitled to. Many of the pensioners had many cheques, one for the exact amount and others with manipulated and inflated figures written in their names. Altogether, the Governor announced how he discovered a pension fraud of six hundred and fifty million naira a (N650 million). Though he claimed to have confirmed some arrests, he never paraded the scammers before the public nor sent them to the police whose duty it is to investigate and prosecute the suspects. Instead he announced that they were handed over to the Department of State Security (DSS). That was all that was heard of the fraud before the former Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) Chief Gideon Ezeji dropped dead without even accessing a dud cheque officially and deliberately released to him by the Governors pension board, because the banks refused to honour it.
The intervention of EFCC in the matter was a “sigh of relief” to the victims who thought a “Deniel” has come to judgment. They expected that Miss. Chinyere Uwandu to cough out all alleged stolen fund pension to the tune of N650 million. Alash! to douse the tension, it took Okorocha who on Tuesday December 12, 2017 openly exonerated her, thus forcing Imolites into accepting that the government is responsible for the alleged N650 million pension scam.