By CHIDI NKWOPA
OWERRI—Imo State governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha, has inaugurated three judicial panels of inquiry to look into all contracts awarded by the Ikedi Ohakim administration, the local government system, as well as autonomous communities and traditional rulers.
While the retired Chief Judge of Imo State, Justice Paul Onumajulu, was asked to probe the local government system, Justices Goddy Anunihu and T. E. C. Chikeka were charged with the responsibility of probing the autonomous communities and traditional rulers.
Although Okorocha explained that the essence of inaugurating the commissions was not to witch-hunt anybody in the state but to establish and bring back the lost glories of the state and traditional institution, observers, however, insisted that the current development might be connected with the growing altercation between the governor and loyalists of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state.
Justice Anunihu was asked to identify all contracts awarded by or on behalf of Imo State government or its parastatals and agencies between May 30, 2007, and May 29, 2011, and ascertain the extent of work done.
The panel is also to ascertain the level of jobs done, detect any payments in excess of work done, including kick backs in cash or kind given to or received by individuals or organisations.
Onumajulu’s panel was asked to identify all types of employees in the local government system, including temporary, casual, permanent staff, the method of recruitment of staff, staff structure, and staff strength of each local government in the state.
They are also charged to investigate salary padding, payment of ghost workers, illegal employment of temporary, casual and permanent staff or employees, as well as identify persons involved in illegal recruitment, salary padding, payment made to ghost workers and prescribe appropriate sanctions.
The Justice Chikeka panel was asked to ascertain whether all the autonomous communities in Imo State were originally qualified to be given autonomous status, in accordance with the law that was in force when each autonomous communities was created.
They were also charged to ascertain the level of involvements of the traditional rulers in acts/misconducts and make recommendations to the government based on their findings.
Responding on behalf of the chairmen and members of the commissions, Justice Onumajulu, thanked the governor for finding them worthy to serve in the commissions and assured that they would do their best to carry out the assignment.