By Tony Edike, Enugu
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has beamed its searchlight on Enugu State over alleged financial impropriety in the ongoing construction of a new state secretariat project at a whooping cost of N13.6 billion.
The investigation was prompted by a petition to the Enugu zonal office of the commission by Coordinator of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the state, Osita Okechukwu.
Okechukwu visited the zonal office in Enugu on invitation by the commission, on Friday to testify on his petition against Governor Sullivan Chime and his government.
He was accompanied by the state Chairman of CPC, Sunday Onoh, his lawyer, T.M. Eke and some members of his party. EFCC operatives had earlier quizzed the Enugu State Accountant General in connection with the petition by the CPC chieftain.
Okechukwu’s session with EFCC which lasted for about two hours was held behind closed doors, but it was however reliably gathered from insider sources that the CPC chieftain stood by his petition that the construction of the new secretariat amounts to financial recklessness, misapplication of funds and definitely carries a baggage of corruption.
He maintained that Enugu State is financially weak and ill-equipped to embark on this project, except through borrowing, going by the state’s financial profile and revenue accruing to the treasury.
He pointed out that the project is unauthorised and unjustified, as it could not be located in the Hansard of Enugu State House of Assembly, where the House mandated the Governor to borrow on behalf of the people for this “white elephant project”.
Okechukwu requested that the EFCC urgently investigates this matter, saying that it amounts to squander-mania and planlessness for a government which neither rehabilitates ailing industries nor constructs new ones to halt the unemployment ravaging the youths.
It was further gathered that the state Accountant-General, Mrs. Josphine Ugwu told a team of EFCC investigators earlier that the project would cost an estimated N8 billion and not N13.6 billion as contained in the petition.
Ugwu said the state government only released money for the feasibility studies and the demolition of the old secretariat, which were provided for in the 2012 budget.