From GEORGE ONYEJIUWA,
Owerri There was palpable fear at the weekend in Owerri, the Imo State capital, following the visit of operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to the state to probe activities of the previous and present administrations in the state as regards the awards of contract and the management of government finances.
When the Saturday Sun visited some of the ministries, staffers, who appeared to be jittery, declined comments and referred the reporter to the appropriate quarters. It was gathered that some of the commissioners had gone into hiding to escape the EFCC operatives, who have been in the state since Wednesday and have quizzed a substantial number of former commissioners in the state.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (ISOPADEC), Rev. Emmanuel Ebomuche, denied rumours of his arrest and detention by the anti-graft agency. Ebomuche, who confirmed that the EFCC operatives were actually in his office on Thursday, said he was never arrested nor any of officials of the commission. He disclosed that they demanded records of contracts and financial dealings of ISOPADEC from 2007 to 2011, regarding contracts that were awarded before he came on board.
He described the speculation that he had been whisked to Abuja by the EFCC as “malicious and desperate attempt” by politicians to tarnish the image of the commission. “EFCC operatives were here and they demanded official working documents of the ISOPADEC from 2007 to 2011 and we handed all documents to them,” he said. According to him the, commission, in the last one year under the Rochas Okorocha’s administration, has been battling to reverse the cases of abuse of office perpetrated by the commission during the previous administration, disclosing that between 2007 and 2011, ISOPADEC received about N10 billion without any thing to show for it.
However, Imo State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chinedu Offor, said that the visit of the EFCC to the state was not strange, as it has nothing to do with the present administration, adding: “EFCC is a government agency that has the right to demand the working document of any state government. Their visit to the state is to investigate the billions of naira spent during the previous administration.” Offor, who described as unfounded the rumour that some of the commissioners have become jittery, noted: “The current commissioners have nothing to fear; we are in our offices doing our work. This administration is barely one year old and we have nothing to hide.”