By Chinonso Alozie
Owerri – Tensions Thursday continued to gather regarding the battle between the outgoing governor of Imo state, Rochas Okorocha and the governor-elect, Emeka Ihedioha, on who should have upper hand in the control of the state funds.
This is as the Imo state Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, led by Charles Ezekwem, in Owerri raised an allegation that Okorocha had engaged in continued withdrawal of state funds to the tune of over N17 billion, from about four different banks.
But the state government, under Okorocha through his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, had dismmised that Ihedioha, does not have the powers to stop banks where Imo state funds were domiciled from relating with Okorocha.
Just as many have reported to Vanguard that, in 2011 when Okorocha was declared governor-elect, he (Okorocha) issued a statement warning banks from having any dealings with his then predecessor (Ikedi Ohakim).
Recalled that, trouble had started when the governor-elect, Ihedioha at his maiden press briefing in Owerri, warned that banks dealing Okorocha, would be doing that at their own risk, he also asked members of the public to be wary of doing any government related business with Okorocha.
However, the PDP, under Ezekwem, alleged that Okorocha, was tempering with major government properties in order to create difficulties for the incoming government.
Some of the withdrawals according to Ezekwem, occurred between Tuesday, 12th March and Thursday, 14th March, 2019, Governor Okorocha had made major withdrawals from Access Bank, Zenith Bank, Unity Bank and Sky Bank amounting to over N17 billion.”
Not only that the PDP, said: “We are aware of the rampant issuance of Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) to family members and friends of Okorocha’s family. The party warns those involved that they do so at their own peril. This massive looting of Imo treasury are in addition to the previous looting of Paris Club and bailout funds, which led to the plunging the state into huge indebtedness.
“Once again, we warn financial institutions against collaborating with governor Okorocha to continue the looting of our collective common wealth as they shall be held responsible.”
Responding, Okorocha through his Chief Press Secretary, Onwuemeodo, said: “Chief Emeka Ihedioha who was declared winner of the governorship election in the State by Prof. Francis Ezeonu-led INEC in Owerri does not have the right or locus yet, to harass or give directives to the financial Institutions in the State over their dealings with the State government.
“The media report quoting Chief Ihedioha to have given such directive is unfortunate and a sign of ugly things to come. Otherwise, Ihedioha should not have been the first, of all the governors-elect in the Country to issue such directive.
“We are also not surprise at his issuing the directive because as a PDP man, his interest, first and foremost, will be the treasury of the State, and the “policy” or the slogan of“share the money” will soon come back, but he should exercise patience and wait till he is sworn-in. He shouldn’t be in a hurry.
“There is a government in place and until May 29, 2019, that government should Continue to work in the interest of the State and her people and also Continue to carry out programmes and policies for the same purpose, until the end of its approved life span.
“To begin to harass or give directives to financial institutions in the State is an act of hostility and he should know that.
“The financial Institutions in the State should disregard such directive and Continue to do the right thing and take the right action since the best he can do is to confront the outgoing government when he takes over on any financial transaction he has reservations at.”