By Chidi Nkwopara – Owerri
The Panel of Investigation set up by Governor Emeka Ihedioha, to critically scrutinize the activities of Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, ISOPADEC, Wednesday, revealed that over N6.044 billion of the Commission’s fund is unaccounted for.
Speaking during the handover ceremony, the Panel’s Chairman, Dr. Romanus C. O. Ezeogu, said that “the shortfall in revenue accrual from the Federation Account unaccounted for, stood at N6,044,744,341.37”.
He further disclosed that funding of ISOPADEC from other sources included Bailout Fund N2,203,355,325.71, Paris Club Foreign Loan N158,508,544.68, LGA Joint Labour Salary/Pension N62,832,187.73, Imo State IGR Sweeping Account N30,000,000, Secondary Education Management Board Account N612,684,172.56 and Primary School Teachers Account N47,767,756.18.
“Simply put, what really happened translates to the fact that after diverting the Commission’s funds for whatever purpose, the barefaced administration of Rochas Okorocha, would grab funds from other institutions, to make up or cover his misappropriation of funds”, Ezeogu told the Governor.
According to the Chairman, the issue that begs for explanation is what happened to the original 40 per cent monthly derivation fund allocated to the Commission.
“Rochas Okorocha should roundly be held responsible for the entire missing fund. The Law establishing ISOPADEC provides its funding from the 13 per cent derivation from the Federation Account and not from other sources”, the Chairman said.
While saying that some past managing directors advanced security votes that ran into millions of Naira, to themselves, Ezeogu also said that they are not entitled to security votes.
“The Panel also discovered N1 billion lodged in a bank account which was without bank details or descriptions of any kind. Our recommendation is crystal clear on this. At various times, the financial autonomy of the Commission was hijacked by Mr. Choke Okafor, when he was the Finance Commissioner”, Ezeogu said.
The Panel equally unearthed what it called “arbitrary release of fund close to the inauguration of the present administration, by the past government.
His words: “A whooping sum of N422 million was released to Rise and Shine Motors for the supply of pre-inauguration vehicles. In the same vein, over N200 million was hurriedly released for purchase of transformers, during the political campaign era.”
Similarly, the Panel discovered that the failed Marine University, gulped the sum of N402,393,750, stressing that tender procedures were not adhered to and no due process was observed.
“Besides, Dr. Paschal Obi, a civil servant, should explain what he did with the sum of N35 million advanced to him, as seen in the relevant vouchers submitted to the Panel”, Ezeogu said.
Responding, Governor Ihedioha commended the panelists for doing a thorough job, even as he promised that his administration would take appropriate action on the report.
“Going forward, it is important that we get through what happened in the past if we must reposition the Commission for a more efficient delivery towards realizing its mandate”, Ihedioha said.