By Martin Opara
A cross section of Imo people have expressed concern over the inexplicable silence of the Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma despite the numerous allegations of fraud, diversion of state funds, incompetence and running affairs of the Board of Internal Revenue (B.I.R) with a team of “strangers” he brought from Lagos contrary to laid down rules, regulations and procedure as enshrined in the Imo State Revenue Administration Law No 23 of 2019.
Some political pundits who spoke to Nigeria Watchdog on condition of anonymity wondered why the shared prosperity administration that has from inception hyped it’s zero tolerance for corruption and severally orchestrated it’s purported success in overhauling the system, blocking all loopholes and conduit pipes through which state funds were allegedly siphoned by previous administrations has kept mute and refused to take any action in respect of the myriad of grievous allegations of sharp practices and unethical conduct of the Justice Okoye led management of the state revenue agency.
They recalled that at inception, the 3R administration in the state, said it had through it’s verification exercises realized billions of naira previously diverted and embezzled by past administrations in the state, through payment to ghost workers and pensioners.
“The government also said the wage bill was bloated. But the irony is that if billions of naira that was previously siphoned have been saved, the bloated wage bill reduced and names of ghost workers and pensioners taken off the nominal rolls, why is the government still finding it difficult to pay salaries and pensions as and at when due? Why is it reluctant to decisively address the alleged rot in the BIR with a view to bringing culprits to book? They queried. Others who spoke in the same vein said,” it appears that Justice Okoye and his team are sacred cows who are beyond reprisal for obvious reasons. That is why he had the guts to allegedly redeploy career staff of the Board to the Ministry of Finance where they are said to be redundant, and laid off some without qualms and brought in his team of “mercenaries” from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) with whom he is acting pre-conceived scripts”.
They urged the state government to, as a matter of urgency beam it’s search light on the agency to dispel unpleasant rumours and speculations presently making the round.