Okorocha asks ICPC to prove allegation of diverting N26.8bn bailout fund

OkorochaImo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, has denied the allegation made against him by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) at the weekend that N20 billion, out of the N28.5 billion-bailout loan granted him by the Central Bank (CBN) was diverted.

In a statement yesterday, signed by the governor’s spokesman, Sam Onwuemeodo, he accepted that the state government lodged two billion naira in three accounts, amounting to N6 billion, insisting the action was justifiable.

He stated that the lodgments included “N2 billion paid into a government account; N2 billion paid into an Imo State project account and another N2 billion transferred into a Microfinance Bank.”

Okorocha admitted that, “ICPC was right that such monies were paid into the mentioned accounts but had expected the commission to go further to tell the public what such funds paid into those accounts were used for. The commission became stingy with facts at that point,” he said.

The governor tasked the commission to answer some unsubstantiated areas. He asked, “Before the bailout fund, were there no existing accounts government was using to pay salaries? While giving out the bailout funds, was there any specified account that was given that the salaries must be paid from?’

He wondered why the commission never claimed that the money was paid into private accounts or that the ones paid into the government’s accounts were used for other reasons except paying salaries.

Okorocha defended: “From the mentioned government’s Account, personnel of Imo Security Network, Imo Community Watch, Youth Must Work Teachers, Community Government Council Teachers, and Imo Civil Guards were paid all their arrears in December 2015,’ adding ‘We stand to be contradicted on this claim.

He also clarified that, “From the referenced Microfinance Bank Account, Imo State University, Imo Polytechnic, Imo College of Nursing and Health Sciences Staff and so on, they collected their salaries also in arrears in December 2015.”

He challenged the ICPC to prove us wrong on this claim. In the case of Imo State project Account, the truth was that the government was drawing money from the account to ensure full payment of workers’ salaries when the financial fortunes of the state began to dwindle like most other states.

So, when the bailout fund finally came the government had no option than to pay back the fund it had borrowed from that account.Explaining, he stressed: “the truth of the matter became glaring when the Labour Union in the state decided to be collecting seventy (70) percent of the total income of the state at the end of every month for salaries and pensions, leaving only 30 percent for government, for capital projects and since January, they have not been able to pay workers full salary.

He said in last December, the state government paid all arrears of workers’ salaries including workers of parastatals, agencies, and health outfits the government it ha issues with and also paid pensions, which was not part of the bailout fund.

So, in what way did the state divert or misapply the bailout fund?, he asked.The government, according to Okorocha: “has unbridled regard and respect for agencies like ICPC because of the great service they have been rendering to this nation. Otherwise, we would have concluded that something was wrong somewhere.



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