22 March 2013

Nigeria: Group Asks Imo Assembly to Impeach Okorocha for Abuse of Office

With the alleged bribery scandal rocking the Imo State Government, which has led to the impeachment moves against the state Deputy Governor, Mr. Jude Agbaso, a group noted for its activism for good governance, Save Imo, has petitioned the Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly to immediately commence impeachment moves against the state Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha, for abuse of office.

A three-page petition accompanied with a sworn affidavit of facts sworn to at the High Court Registry, Owerri and signed by the coordinator of the group, Mr. Ebubeagu Godwin Ekenulo, urged the assembly to immediately investigate and start impeachment proceedings on the governor for alleged abuse of office, diversion of government revenue and other related offences which the governor has used his office to commit.

"We wish to most sincerely in the interest of the masses of Imo State and to save the state from monumental fraud and diversion of government resources presently going on in the state to present to Mr. Speaker, these catalog of impeachable offences committed by the governor of our state on which we call on you for his immediate impeachment," Ekenulo said.

Although, the governor's spokesperson, Mr. Ebere Uzoukwa, said such a petition had not reached the governor and as such government could not react to it, he stated that the Imo Assembly has a right to perform its oversight functions and could go ahead to investigate the governor, whom he said has not committed any impeachable offence.

The Save Imo group who also sent a separate petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) identified about 13 offences which it accused the governor of committing while in office, adding that if nothing urgent was done to bring the governor to book, the state would be insolvent and uninhabitable for the people.

Ekenulo commended the state assembly for starting the impeachment process on the deputy governor, but noted that the governor being a partner of the deputy governor had committed more incriminating impeachable offences and in the process had abused his oath of office, and therefore cannot be left unscratched.

Among the list of offences the governor was accused of include: unlawful use and diversion of government revenue and funds to establish his private University at Ogboko contrary to his oath of office; concealment of revenue from proceeds of the concession of Imo Concorde Hotel, Adapalm, Imo Transport Company, Imo General Hospitals and conversion of proceeds of same to personal use contrary to his oath of office as governor; approval of 100 percent upfront payment for road contract to JPROS International Nig. Ltd. without proper evidence of work completion contrary to the public procurement laws.

Other offences are: unlawful use of the proceeds of the Imo State bond by diversion to unapproved project contrary to the Imo State bond law; unlawful use of the proceeds of the bond to the tune of over N13.3 billion without appropriation; approval of award of contract to JPROS International without advertisement and other contract processes contrary to the public procurement laws; unauthorised and unlawful use of local government allocation to the tune of N63 billion; and conversion of government assets and properties such as Imo deputy governor's lodge and two-story building at Director's quarters, Orlu road to Lamonde Hotel, a company in which he has interest contrary to his oath of office.

The coordinator of the group, however, appealed to the assembly to show that her action against the deputy governor was not propelled or induced but motivated by genuine concern for probity, transparency and accountability, stating "I believe that the assembly is desirous to fight corruption, so they will not be selective. I also believe that the assembly will treat this matter this dispatch in order to make Imo people believe that they are fair and that their oversight function is in order."

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