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By Amanze Njemanze
A few days ago, another shocking revelation was made on how over N20 Billion of Imo people’s money was siphoned under ex-Gov Rochas Okorocha’s government, through one particular company, Zigreat International Company Limited. The said company was awarded 12 contracts worth N20 Billion over a period of time. Particularly in one day alone, being the 9th of March, 2017, three contracts worth over N4 Billion was awarded to this company. While on the 11th of October, 2016, the same company was awarded four different contracts worth over N2 Billion. On the 3rd and 15th of November, 2013, Zigreat was awarded two contracts worth over N4.4 Billion. It also was awarded a contract for the sum of N4.3 Billion on Valentine’s day in 2017.
The award of these contracts in itself is not an issue. But what is an issue is the process through which they were awarded. First of all, there is a Procurement Law in Imo State which is modelled after the Procurement Act, stipulating the rules for awarding contracts in the State. It has been discovered that Okorocha didn’t observe the provisions of this Law while awarding these contracts. The Law provides that contracts of such volume should be advertized and publicly bidded before award. In this case, there is no evidence to show that this was done. This clearly implies that this is one of the numerous contracts which it is believed that ex-gov Okorocha, in his usual imperial manner, awarded orally.
Again, that Law also provides that any company to be awarded such a contract, must provide at least, a three (3) year tax clearance, evidence of previous jobs executed and technical know-how. Also there is no proof that these conditions were met before the contract was awarded to the company. Instead, it has been discovered that the company was registered a few months before Okorocha’s government awarded the first contract to it. Surprisingly too, the registered address of the company at No. 5 Ugbelle Street, Ideato South, has been found to be non-existent. This goes to show that due diligence was not conducted on the company, before it was awarded contracts of such high magnitude. This is a clear case of criminal negligence by Okorocha.
The summary of the whole scenario is that ex-gov Okorocha awarded N20 Billion contract to a fictitious company in clear violation of the Imo State Procurement Law and without due process. This is the height of corruption and fiscal recklessness in a modern government. There is no doubt that this is a true case of contract scam and Rochas Okorocha is fully aware of what transpired. Obviously, it is another conduit pipe through which the megalomaniac and kleptomaniac temporary Senator embezzled funds meant for the betterment of Imo people. This is the height of greed and avarice. Looking at the foregoing, one can little wonder why Okorocha was desperate to install his son-in-law Uche Nwosu as his successor, in an apparent bid to cover his too many fraudulent activities.
Well meaning citizens should ask Okorocha to explain the economic logic of investing over N9 Billion in building projects meant for the Federal Government like the Police and Prison Headquarters, when roads are bad, pensioners and workers were owed several months in arrears. That amount could have been used to clear all the arrears, build good roads and better the lives of the people. Why pump over N20 Billion in erecting edifices when majority of Imo citizens are living in abject poverty? They only explanation to all these is that Okorocha’s only mission as Governor was to enrich himself and family by looting the State. This assignment he did execute successfully, howbeit, unintelligently. We hope that now all these revelations have been made, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will swing in to action to investigate this matter and arrest the culprits.
Now it is becoming crystal clear the reason why the ex-governor was shying away from doing a formal handover, because, of course Imo was pillaged and nothing was left to be handed over. In a situation where contracts were awarded orally, and there was neither due process nor proper documentation of government activities, what is there to handover? This is one too many of several mind boggling revelations of how Okorocha and members of his family brazenly embezzled funds and stole property belonging to the good people of Imo State.
This is why the blood of all the workers, pensioners and contractors who died as a result of non-payment of their entitlements will surely rest on the head of Okorocha and family. Imo State can’t move forward when funds meant for her development is in the hands of one family. It is now Rochas Okorocha’s family versus the good people of Imo State. Imo people should not let that happen. Therefore, every well meaning Imolite should support the efforts of government to recover the over 1 trillion Naira looted under Okorocha’s watch, for the betterment of the State.
*Prince Amanze Njemanze, a Public Affairs analyst, wrote in from Owerri, the Imo State capital
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