Recent happenings have revealed that the attempt by Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha to demolish Imo Standard Shoe Company,Orlu Road Owerri, was meant to frustrate EFCC’s investigation on serial cases of official corruption, money laundering and outright embezzlement of public funds using the beleaguered shoe industry as conduit pipe.
Perhaps the whole essence of expanding and reconstructing the already dualised Orlu Road Owerri, was to obliterate the shoe industry from the map of Imo State so that EFCC will find it impossible to trace the fraudulent activities perpetrated by successive governments, using Imo Standard Shoe Company Owerri, as launching pad.
“Already two serving Commissioners of Industries, in Imo State under whose supervision, the industry was used to launder monies abroad, were killed in very mysterious circumstances”. They were Chief Ogbonnaya Uche (OGB) who died under Udenwa in 2003 and Lady Chioma Ogoke, whose death occurred while serving Owelle Rochas Okorocha as Commissioner for Trade and Industries. They were said to have signed various contract documents for the syndication of loans with an Italian mafia syndicate which goes by the name “WIM group”, only to later expose the group as fraudulent, they wanted to expose the scam that robbed Imo State billions of naira since 2001″,our source stated.
Another government house source, who was privy to the boardroom politics and intrigues of Imo Shoe Company Owerri revealed that ex-governor Achike Udenwa had in 2001 hired the services of WIM group through one D.O. Brown who contracted and introduced “Adami Doriano” an Italian to the then governor, as a foreign investor. D.O. Brown was alleged to be a specialist in providing smart money laundering syndicate to state governors and ministers.
According to the source, a lot of eye brows were raised when Udenwa defiantly engaged the services of “Adami Doriano and his WIM group” to revamp Imo Shoe Company knowing that the self effacing Italian business man is a conman who was chased out from Maiduguri in Borno State in a widely publicized disclaimer by the government of that state “for heavily defrauding it”. The group was branded 419 investors in Borno State but Achike Udenwa who by this time had spent billions of naira in search of foreign Direct Investors by embarking on ceaseless foreign trips, considered them worthy partners. Though one Allen Okafor and Sir B.A. Ejiogu, former Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, identified and introduced them to Imo State, they were able to find their way into the heart of Udenwa, who quickly approved that they negotiate.
The group was branded 419 investors in Borno State but Achike Udenwa who by this time had spent billions of naira in search of foreign Direct Investors by embarking on ceaseless foreign trips, considered them worthy partners. Though one Allen Okafor and Sir B.A. Ejiogu, former Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, identified and introduced them to Imo State, they were able to find their way into the heart of Udenwa, who quickly approved that they negotiate.
At WIM groups instance, the Board of Directors of Standard Shoe Company made a requisition for a bank credit facility of Two Hundred and Fifty Million naira (
N250,000,000) only, in order to revitalize the company. It was later realized that D.O. Browns and his cohorts represented by Adami Doriano’s WIM group had fraudulently signed a Board resolution for on behalf of the then chairman of the Board of Standard Shoe Industry, Engr. Chibuike Achigbu. But when the loan was successfully secured, rather than N250 million a paltry N80 million was released to the company while D.O. Browns through Adami Doriano’s WIM group remitted $557,372 to a private account in Italy.
According to our source,it is on record that the aforementioned fund, allegedly siphoned at the tacit approval of government has not been accounted for till date, or is there any attempt at recovering it since successive governors have toed the fraud infested pathway.
Our government House source also revealed that copy of the purported resolution dated December 27, 2002 with which the money was laundered to Italy is readily available for sighting.
At the last count, Adami Doriano and the WIM group were alleged to have defrauded the Imo State government under Chief Udenwa to the tune of
N480 million, yet the then governor was busy accusing Sam Mbakwe of leaving a huge debt profile for him, that prevented him from executing capital projects after deductions and debt servicing.
Then came 2007 when Ikedi Ohakim succeeded Udenwa,rather than investigate the suspicious activities of Adami Doriano and his WIM group, he bought their proposals hook, line and sinker.
Imo Modern or Standard Shoe Company as collateral, they borrowed the sum of Six Hundred and Thirty One Million, Three Hundred and Eighty Eight Thousand, Nine Hundred and Ninety Nine naira (
N631,388,999.98). Curiously till Ochinanwata Ikedi Ohakim left office, our government house source claims he can vouch that no single shoe was manufactured by the so-called technical partners. Instead there were shifts in dates of commissioning newly installed machines.
Acting on the precedence already set and established by his predecessors, Udenwa and Ohakim, Rochas Okorocha, who was eager to wipe out poverty from the faces of his family forever, through the office of his then Chief of Staff, Prince Eze Madumere, now Deputy Governor, and his kitchen cabinet staff Emeka Ajih who is a close acolyte of D.O. Browns, caught the bug and sold the idea to the Rescue Mission Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha. Like the Roche Group dummy”, Okorocha embraced the Italian mafia 419 fraudsters who specialize in money laundering and capital flight for Nigerian governors, with both hands.
The result was an initial proposal and subsequent agreement for the production and supply of 200,000, pairs of school sandals and 200,000 sets of secondary school bags entered into with Adami Doriano and his WIM group at the total cost of Three Hundred and Seventy Five Million Naira (
N375 million) only.
Rather than 200,000 pairs of sandals, records at the Standard Shoe Company Owerri merely show that only a paltry 25,000 pairs of sandals and school bags locally sourced from Ariaria market Aba were supplied while the remaining money was allegedly laundered abroad.
It was learnt also that an indication that the governor had also acquiesced to the malfeasances and improprieties perpetrated by Adami Doriano and his WIM group, was when several entreaties and persuasions made to him by several interest groups and individuals to investigate the activities of the company, failed on deaf ears.
He however yielded to pressures with the setting up of the Rev. Fr. Ihebunike Panel in March 2014, and the Barr. Chima Anozie Panel in September 2014 but till date, Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha has not implemented any of the probe panel’s recommendations to recover all stolen monies from Adami Doriano and “WIM group”. It was authoritatively realized that the then Principal Secretary to the governor, in a similar development, wrote a letter of award of contract to “WIM group”, with 75% drawn payment and bank guarantee without the consent of the Board or management, yet no job was seen anywhere to be executed hence he never gave any attention to the entreaties and threats to invite EFCC to probe them.
However,a patriotic Imolite and stakeholder in the establishment(namewitheld) had written to EFCC over this urgly thread but the outcome was not yet known at the time of going to press.