Imo State government has ordered “a comprehensive forensic audit of the local governments’ accounts.”
Governor Emeka Ihedioha who gave the order yesterday while addressing a cross-section of stakeholders in Owerri expressed shock “at the level of financial malfeasance in that tier of government.”
He said: “I have set up a committee chaired by Chief Eze Duruiheoma (SAN), charged with the responsibility of carrying out a comprehensive forensic audit of accounts of the 27 local governments in the state.”
While directing the Committee to painstakingly probe the alleged financial malfeasance in the local council areas, Ihedioha also told Imo people that “the last administration operated the local government system in the breach.”
The governor also disclosed that the Rochas Okorocha administration had no fewer than 250 accounts that were largely operated by private individuals and the system lacked transparency and accountability.
Ihedioha said that while he was campaigning, he underestimated the degree of fraud and looting perpetrated in the state by the immediate past administration.
His words: “We are barely 50 days old in the office today (yesterday). The investigation has shown that there was consistent looting of public property and last-minute sale of government property at give-away prices to friends, relations and associates of the last administration.”
Governor Ihedioha further disclosed that his administration has “received over N30 billion garnishees order from even suspicious contracts,” promising that the full weight of the law would be visited on all those who pilfered the state funds or property.
Also yesterday, Governor Ihedioha said that he is prepared to submit the list of his commissioners to the state House of Assembly.
“Early next week,” Ihedioha said, “I will forward the names of the commissioner-nominees to the state House of Assembly.”
He took time to explain some of the actions he has taken to remedy the identified wrongs perpetrated by the last administration and reiterated his commitment to the principle of separation of power, due process and rule of law.
The governor also said, among other things, that on the economic front, he had “maximised accessing of resources from intervention funds of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN; Bank of Industry, BoI; and Development Bank of Nigeria, DBN, to stimulate small and medium-scale enterprises and create employment;
“I have also maximised the attraction of private sector investment (local direct investment and foreign direct investment) to stimulate economic growth, employment and poverty reduction while expanding the IGR base through relevant taxes and fees.
“On water supply, pipe-borne water became a complete luxury as we couldn’t find functional tap water anywhere in the state. The Imo State Water Authority has undergone some restructuring and is now equipped to begin putting in place, the required systems for pipe-borne water provision.
“In a month, some parts of Owerri will certainly have access to water.
“Previously, public expenditure was not backed by budgets. Today, the budget formulation will be participatory.”
Meanwhile, the leadership of Igbo National Council, INC, led by Chilos Godsent, yesterday, called on Governor Ihedioha to tackle the issue of herdsmen intimidation and invasion of farmlands in some communities in the state.
Godsent spoke to newsmen in Owerri, adding that Ihedioha should declare their activities in the state illegal.
INC also called on the state Commissioner of Police, Rabiu Ladodo, to parade herdsmen found destroying people’s farms.
According to Godsent, “the Igbo National Council, INC, is very saddened with the nefarious activities of the herdsmen in many communities in Imo State since the controversial RUGA settlement and National Livestock Transformational Plan of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government were mooted.
“We have noted the security implications of the illegal activities of these herdsmen in these communities and we are very shocked that the governor of Imo State has kept silence in the face of all these rampaging herdsmen in Imo State.”