…Says Serving As Governor Made Me Even Poorer
By Ambrose Obioma Okehi
Senator Rochas Okorocha, has challenged anybody who calims that he committed financial fraud and mismanaged the fund of Imo State as a Governor then should come up with evidencies of such corruption against him as he denied allegations of embezzling public fund as the Governor of Imo State as well as amassing several private properties using state funds for himself ss the governor of Imo State.
The former Imo State governor (Okorocha), maintained that he has been well-to-do and was known for that before assumption of office in 2011.
According to him, “I challenge anybody to prove that I acquired any property with any government fund,” he declared while guesting on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics programme.
Owelle Rochas Okorocha added: “I think people have forgotten that I was Rochas before becoming the governor of Imo State; I think they have forgotten completely”.
He further revealed that “If anything, becoming a governor made me even poorer than what I was in the past. I don’t know whether I acquired any property here in Abuja, there is none.”
Okorocha, who is currently serving as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and represents Imo West senatorial district in the Senate however, explained that his accusers are referring to a hotel that belongs to his wife and is used to fund their foundation.
He stated that he wouldn’t even have been able to embezzle the state’s funds because the monthly allocation from the federal government was infinitesimally small.
The lawmaker stated further that during his stint as a two-term governor, he constructed the best international cargo airport and police state command in the country, as well as 27 hospitals, a new government house, a new court, and a new prison, among others.
On his encounter with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which has been drilling him for sometime now over the same issue, adding that he spent two nights when he was arrested.
“I said to them (EFCC) that I have not come to respond to your call because there is already a matter in court and once a matter is sub judice, you cannot talk about it.
“Imo State government has taken me to court on the same subject matter, and we are at the Federal High Court in Abuja on the same subject matter,” Okorocha said.
He added, “EFCC is doing their job because if there is no report, they can’t nose into whatever you are doing; EFCC is not witch-hunting, they are acting on a petition being written by somebody.”
The former governor also claimed he can create one million jobs from cattle rearing if provided with the financial capital.
In recent times, Nigeria has witnessed a spate of farmers-herders crisis in many parts of the country, which has led to the loss of lives and property.
As a result of the crisis, 17 southern governors, last Tuesday, resolved to ban open grazing in their region, after a meeting in Asaba, Delta state.
Speaking on the development in the Channels TV’s interview, the legislator averred that the country should look into the business of cattle rearing, noting that billions by not handling it well.
“Let me talk to Nigerians for the first time as a businessman. Do you know how many billions of dollars this nation is losing by not handling this business of cattle well in the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he said.
“This business of cattle can create one million jobs for Nigerians, if well-managed. I wish Nigerians can call me or the government will call me and say Okorocha this seventy-six billion.
“We want to give you, it is your share, take it and fix the cattle business. If I do not create one million jobs within the shortest time, just know I’m not Rochas.
“This is business. See money and people are just joking with it. We used to be exporters of leathers, skins. What about the dairy products and milk?
“Assuming we have this business, do you know how many welders and fabricators will build body carriers for the cows, while we import the head from China and fix it.”
News Emperor gathered that Okorocha was recently arrested at his Unity House private office in Abuja by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The former governor was arrested after a five-hour standoff with EFCC operatives who trailed him to the location.
Okorocha was said to have been invited by the anti- graft agency was also said to have reportedly declined to honour the invitation, a development that infuriated detectives who fanned out to get him.
Allegations against him are related to suspected monumental graft during his eight-year reign as governor.
Since he left office as governor in 2019, Mr Okorocha has been having a running battle with his successor, Governor Hope Uzodinma, who accused him of misgovernance and corruption during his tenure. Both men are members of Nigeria’s ruling party, APC.
On February 21, the former governor was arrested by the police for unsealing a hotel owned by his wife but which was shut by the Imo State government. He was later released.
In November 2020, the EFCC’s zonal office in Enugu arraigned Lasberry Anyanwu, a former commissioner who served under Okorocha. He was charged with stealing and misappropriation of public funds to the tune of N180 million.
Recall that over the weekend, Imo State Government accused Okorocha inciting youths to destroy state property.
The state made the allegation in a statement released by Declan Emelumba, commissioner for information, on Friday.
Last Monday, gunmen attacked the correctional centre and the police command headquarters in Owerri, the state capital.
Over 1,500 prisoners were reportedly freed in the attacks.
Hope Uzodinma, the state governor, blamed politicians for the incidents.
But Okorocha, who represents Imo west at the senate, said the governor should approach him for counsel rather than politicise the security situation.
“The recent attacks on the police headquarters and the correctional centre in Imo State, the unending herdsmen crises, the banditry, the unending Boko Haram, kidnapping – these are all products of poverty and injustice,” Okorocha said.
“While I call for peace and understanding, we have a duty as leaders to correct these ugly issues of injustices and poverty which are ravaging the country.
“Whoever is saying politicians are involved is trying to politicize the whole thing. I don’t think that any sane politician will go and ask youths to shoot at the police headquarters and all that.”
The commissioner flayed the former governor for blaming the attacks on poverty and injustice, saying Okorocha kept the people impoverished during his tenure.
Emelumba said Okorocha has refused to condemn the Imo attacks, adding that the former governor has been inciting northern youths to destroy state property.
“He is reaping political capital over the unfortunate incidents and had even gone ahead to incite northerners against the government and people of Imo state,” he said.
“It is a direct slap on the face of Imo people for Okorocha to say that the cause of the security breaches in the state was poverty and injustice when he greatly impoverished Imo people by mindlessly appropriating their commonwealth in a most unjust manner, as established by the judicial commissions of inquiry that investigated his tenure in office.
“Do you know the collateral damage that rascality and indiscretion has cost Ndigbo? As I speak, Northern youths are planning attacks against Igbo property in the north because someone chose to sell out for political patronage.”
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