Call on Imo state lawmakers, Gov. Uzondinma to recover the billions
Outraged by the humongous theft and rape of the Imo State treasury to the tune of N112 billion, some concerned citizens have demanded a probe of the fleecing of the state by Zenith Bank and other financial institutions.
The petitioners, under the aegis of Financial Advisory Committee (FAC) set up by a former governor of the state, also protested the appointment of a former staff of Zenith Bank that defrauded the state as the Commissioner for Finance, Dr Doris Nkiruka Uzoka-Anite, Persecondnews can authoritatively report.
In a letter dated April 20, 2021 and addressed to Gov. Hope Uzodinma, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, the Chairman of the committee, Dr Abraham Nwankwo, the Secretary, Mr Nick Opara-Ndudu and Ifeyinwa Maureeen Okafor, Sir Charles Onwunali and Mrs Udeze Ibezim as members, asked the authorities to also recover the money from Zenith Bank.
They said it would be a “historic disservice and insult on Imo people if Zenith Bank was not made to return all the loot’’.
In all, they demanded a refund or recovery of N112.82 billion from the banks while Zenith alone is expected to refund N73.28 billion.
On June 6, 2019, the then governor, Mr Emeka Ihedioha had set up FAC to among others, resolve the issue of financial infraction that occurred in the state under the administration of Gov. Rochas Okorocha.
It was to ascertain and document the locations of and balances on all bank accounts operated by the Imo State Government, its ministries, departments and agencies as at May 29, 2019 and review all financial transactions and where necessary a forensic audit with a view to ascertaining sources of funds and the application of same.
The committee was also to review such disbursement/applications of states resources to ascertain the propriety of levies, charges on accounts, interest payment of loans and deposits, year applicable authorization etc.
The petitioners recalled that following their recommendations, the state government engaged the services of 10 consulting firms, but regretted that a change of government via the instrumentality of the Supreme Court verdict, Gov, Ihedioha could not implement the report on the fraud committed by the nine banks.
They wondered why Gov. Uzodinma had failed to take a decision on the matter since he took over but instead appointed one of the alleged perpetrators of the bank fraud as Commissioner for Finance.
“We, therefore, write on behalf of the citizens of Imo State, demanding that the House of Assembly, as part of its constitutional roles investigate and establish among others, why only N3 billion was paid or refunded by Zenith Bank out of the N27.09 billion which was “already irrefutably established as minimum recoverable from the bank.’’
“Why the same bank which had been found to deliberately defraud the state by booking and recovering a loan that was unrequested and undisbursed, even charging interest on the fictitious loan, among other infractions, has not been reported to CBN and EFCC but instead is being retained as a banker to the state.
“With all these allegations against Zenith Bank and with no clarity as to the outcome of the review process. A staff of the same bank in the person of Dr Doris Uzoka-Anite, would be seconded as Commissioner for Finance with the additional mandate of coordinating the economy of the state.
“While it is the prerogative of the governor to make appointments, we believe they should not be inimical, antithetical or overwhelmingly against the progress of the state. This appointment clearly appears so and seems like a reward to Zenith Bank for its fraud against Imo State.
“It is worthy to note that all the infractions contained in the report were committed against Imo State Government under the stewardship of a former staff of Zenith Bank who was equally appointed Commissioner for Finance in the Governor Rochas Okorocha administration.
“The committee noted that most of the bank charges against the state were far in excess of that allowed by the extant banking regulations and guidelines underscoring the incestuous relationship between the then Honourable Commissioner for Finance and his former employer.
“History beckons on the Hon. Speaker and the entire House of Assembly to pursue and recover these sums in the best interest of the state and for the sake of posterity,’’ Persecondnews quotes from the letter.
The petitioners copied Gov. Uzodinnma, the CBN Governor, Ihedioha, Okorocha, ex-Governors Ikedi Ohakim and Achike Udenwa, the Nigerian Bar Association, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Nigeria Labour Congress and the Nigeria Union of Pensioners in the state among others.
Meanwhile, the consortium of IMOFAC CONSULTANTS 2019 had also written to Gov. Uzodinma in a letter dated December 21, 2020, demanding payment on Zenith Bank balance of the minimum recoverable amount.
It recalled that 10 forensic audit firms were engaged by the state in September 2019 and requested the implementation of the report.
The consortium also demanded payment of its fee being 10 per cent of N27.09 billion, about N300, 000.
The letter was signed by the Coordinator, Chief Sir Ndubusi Mgboko and a member, Mr Sammy Osondu, also made available to Persecondnews.