The Judicial Commission of Enquiry on Contracts awarded in Imo State between 2006 and 2019 has submitted its report to Governor Hope Uzodimma and recommended that those who played key roles in the contract awards that turned out to be a scam and which the enquiry had uncovered be made to return a whopping N106 billion to the government.
The period covers part of the administration of Senator Rochas Okorocha and the shortlived regime of Hon. Emeka Ihedioha. Governor Uzodinma has in the past accused both administrations of corruption but which they vehemently denied.
Submitting the report at the Executive Chambers, Government House Owerri on Monday, the Chairman, Justice Benjamin Iheaka explained that “there were monumental fraud that were orchestrated by the contractors in the period under review with strong collusion with some civil servants who helped in the fraud which was evidenced in over-pricing of the value of the contracts executed in the state.”
The report said that there were fragrant disregard for due process and the rules of Bureau for Public Procurement Act in the Imo State which was exhibited in “outrageous contract pricing and shady contract executions as well as payment for non performing contracts.”
Justice Iheaka also said there were evidences of non-existing and phoney companies that were used to siphon State Government funds to the tone of N106 billion.
The Chairman therefore appealed to the Governor not to sweep their report and recommendations under the carpet, but to do whatever is in his power to ensure that those indicted are made to return the monies.
The Commission, however, identified some civil servants who were honest, dedicated and resisted every pressure by the contract scammers to use their offices to defraud the State Government during the period under review.
Receiving the report, Governor Uzodimma assured that all those indicted and identified in the report as having played a role in frittering away public funds through criminal ways will be made to return them.
He said the opportunity will be given to them to return the monies as the state is in dire need of funds to deal with pressing developmental issues in the face of dwindling resources.
The Governor assured that in few days government will set-up a Review Committee that will look at the documents submitted by the Commission and produce a Whitepaper that will give Government the actual direction to follow in implementing the report in full.
He said the mood in the state indicates that the people are anxious to know what government will do with the report and others before it.
He therefore and assured the Chairman and his members that much as Government will not witch-hunt anyone unnecessarily, it will definitely not shy away from implementing to the letter, the recommendations on those who willfully fleeced the state of her scarce resources to serve as a deterrent to future criminals.
He commended the members for taking time to do a thorough job considering the intricacies of their assignment which warranted their visiting project sites and asking difficult questions and said Government will surely show appreciation for their sacrifices.
Present at the submission were the Chief of Staff, Government House, Barr. Nnamdi Anyaehie, some members of the expanded executive council, and other government appointees.
All members of the Commission, including the Secretary, Dame Comfort Obi, were in attendance.