15 November 2017

Nigeria: Okorocha Faults Serap, Ready for Probe Over Cost of Statues, Others

Owerri — Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha yesterday faulted critics of his government for erecting the statues of some African presidents, saying he was ready to be investigated on the matter.

Okorocha was reacting to a recent letter by the Socio- Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to anti-corruption agencies, in which it called for a probe into the funds used for erecting the statues.

In a statement yesterday, Okorocha's Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, said he read the report as published in some national dailies on the erection of the statues.

"We have read in the media the report credited to SERAP that it had submitted petitions to some agencies demanding the probe of Governor Okorocha over the statues of presidents Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia.

"SERAP also said that the statues might cost N1 billion, adding that the statues might have been funded with public funds. They also talked about the governor's inability to pay teachers' salaries and pensioners' entitlements," the statement said.

It added that the state government subscribed to SERAP's call for probe, adding that its only concern was that SERAP contradicted itself by also passing judgments.

"It would have stopped at calling for a probe to show they meant well. But they went ahead to pass judgments and thereby jeopardising what should have been their innocent call for probe," it further stated.Okorocha, therefore, suggested that SERAP should have waited for the outcome of the probe before making their stand known to the public.

He insisted that the N1 billion projection cost by SERAP, might be lower or higher if investigated or even not funded by the state government, adding: "SERAP also said that the statues might have cost N1 billion. Then, how would SERAP address the issue of cost again if at the end of the probe, the amount is either higher or below what they quoted?"He appealed to SERAP to wait for conclusions next time before passing judgment.

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