By Chinonso Alozie
OWERRI — Fear of possible arrest and prosecution has gripped traditional rulers in Imo State, following an alleged plan by the state government to probe the royal fathers over non-utilisation of the fund given to them to set up palm plantations in their communities.
Investigations by South East Voice in Owerri, confirmed that some of the communities that allegedly “mismanaged the funds” were currently at loggerheads among themselves over the utilisation.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources, Udo Agoha, had while reacting to complaints over poor utilisation of the fund by concerned indigenous people of several communities said the government would investigate the matter to ensure that the right thing was done.
“This is unacceptable and we must investigate to know how these communities used the money,” Agoha said, even as some aggrieved community members openly threatened to demonstrate openly against their monarchs.
According to Agoha, “each of the communities paid N250,000 as counterpart fund while the state government provided N750,000 as matching grants to enable them set a palm plantation each.They may be asked to refund the money or do the correct thing.”
Sources told the South East Voice that most of the communities were having issues relating to the controversial agricultural funds, prompting some of the communities to set up parallel executive committees of their town unions.
One Nkemjika, who claimed to be a member of the Community Government Council, CGC, said that the complaints over alleged non-utilisation of the agricultural fund was responsible for the non- implementation of some government projects in communities.
According to Nkemjika, “The problem is that most of the aggrieved ones are those who did not benefit from the way the funds were shared. If these people talking rubbish had benefitted, there would have been no problems. Let me also tell you that the same people are responsible of the attacks on some of the policies of the government.
“They are even working with those who do not like this government thereby making it difficult for smooth operations of government activities.”