From FRED ITUA, Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested two officials of Imo State Government over alleged case of fraud running into billions of naira. The two state officials are the state Commissioner of Finance, Deacon Okafor Chike John and the Accountant-General of the state, Eche Ezenna George.
Although details of their arrest were yet to be fully grasped, Daily Sun gathered that their arrest was sequel to a petition against them and the state Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha over alleged illegal bank transactions. They were said to have been picked up in Owerri, the Imo State capital and flown to Abuja for further interrogation by EFCC operatives. Daily Sun further gathered that Governor Okorocha would also have been arrested but for his constitutional immunity from arrest, which he presently enjoys. Last year, the sacked chairmen of the 27 local governments in Imo State had told the EFCC that Okorocha misappropriated funds from a N13.5 billion bond raised by his predecessor, Ikedi Ohakim.
The Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) also alleged that since June 2011, the Joint Accounts Committee in Imo State had not functioned and all statutory allocations due to the local governments totaling over N80 billion had been misappropriated by Okorocha. Following the ALGON petition, among others, operatives of the EFCC visited Imo in October and commenced probes into the operations of the state joint account with the local government as well as the financial records of the state under former governor Ikedi Ohakim.
When contacted on phone, the spokesperson of EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren confirmed their arrest but did not give details. He said: “The officials have been arrested and it is possible that they are being detained here in Abuja. But I don’t have the details.” It was recently reported by some national dailies that Okorocha and his Delta State counterpart were among the 12 governors being investigated by EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission for massive fraud and misappropriation.
The discreet investigations were said to have commenced after the anti-graft agencies received several petitions against the 12 governors. While the EFCC is investigating eight governors, the ICPC is probing four. Most of the petitions were said to have been received after the said governors had celebrated their first year in office.