May 20, 2024

#Abia State’s #Financial Scandal: Unmasking Alleged #Embezzlement Amidst #Political Turmoil

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#Abia State’s #Financial Scandal: Unmasking Alleged #Embezzlement Amidst #Political Turmoil

#Abia State’s #Financial Scandal: Unmasking Alleged #Embezzlement Amidst #Political Turmoil

In the wake of serious allegations of financial misconduct within Abia State, Sir Chikwe Udensi, a distinguished security consultant affiliated with INTERPOL, has made a heartfelt appeal to the state’s Governor, Dr. Alex Otti. Udensi, who is also a prominent figure in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), has expressed his concerns regarding the current administration’s handling of the purported embezzlement of a staggering N107 billion from the state’s coffers.

The controversy centers around the actions of the previous administration led by Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, which, after a thorough forensic audit, has been accused of misappropriating funds. Governor Otti, in a recent address to the Abian diaspora in the United States, detailed the alleged financial irregularities, including payments of N79.3 billion to seven contractors for non-existent projects, and a lack of documentation for transactions amounting to nearly N16 billion.

Udensi, during a radio phone-in program, voiced his skepticism about the veracity of these allegations, citing a lack of serious action and evidence that contradicts previous similar claims made by the government. He questioned the rationale behind announcing the results of the investigation overseas rather than within the state where the alleged crimes occurred.

The security expert highlighted the importance of due process and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. He criticized the current trend of conducting trials on social media, which he views as a form of media persecution that undermines the integrity of the judicial process. Udensi’s stance is clear: the focus should be on a thorough and fair investigation, ensuring that those responsible for any wrongdoing are held accountable through the proper legal channels.

Udensi’s call to action is not just about seeking justice for the alleged financial misdeeds but also about maintaining the integrity of governance. He urges Governor Otti to separate fact from fiction when communicating with the public and to ensure that the good work of the administration is not overshadowed by unverified claims. As the story unfolds, the people of Abia State watch closely, hoping for transparency and accountability from their leaders.

He said that the fact that he is not in agreement with certain decisions and actions of the Alex Otti-led administration does not mean that the administration is not doing well in the area of Infrastructure and went ahead to commend the Governor for the achievements so far.

“Let’s look at the things that have happened in Abia State, there are things that make me not take all those records I see seriously because I personally have reasons to question some of the things that are being done in my state. That doesn’t mean that my Governor is not doing well in the area of Infrastructure. I’ve commended him because he’s doing very well in the area of Infrastructure, but there are things that ought to be done and done properly.

“You remember that about 5,000 ghost workers were found, the Governor himself announced it and we said for 5000 ghost workers to be collecting salaries in Abia State without working is a heinous crime. Billions were being paid to them according to Abia State government and we said, these ghost workers in Abia State are being paid through a bank account, let’s have the bank account.

“It should be published so that first of all, we can make a mockery of those whose names are there. Nobody can open an account with the necessary requirements like BVN etc. So, these 5,000 ghost workers, how were they being paid? Were they being paid cash? Let’s find out that we have an honest disposition of a government that will give proper information.

“That’s why some of us are very sceptical about the 107 billion that has gone to the press for prosecution. We were told that we’ve cleared nine years of arrears of pension, only for us to realize that only %40 were being paid to them for the past nine months. What they’re doing right now is the balance of %60 which is what they owed throughout the nine months that they’ve been in government.”

He said it was a shock and that he could not believe his ears when I heard that, which led him to make efforts to find out from government officials.

“I was very impressed when the Commissioner for Finance came to the radio station. I still have the record of what he said and I’ve interacted with some of his officers, what the state government paid was the balance of the nine months they owed and not the arrears of nine years that they announced. It was very disturbing when I heard about this level of inconsistency from the government.

“The truth should be told. The truth is that the government paid the balance of what it owed and that NUP has arranged with you to forgive the balance. Don’t tell us that you’ve paid the arrears. The truth is what we need. It gives a wrong impression, it gives a wrong note and it gives a confusing arrangement. It deceived the people if I may use proper language.

“You also remember the N1.5 billion that was put in the budget for two Hilux Pickups? This N1.5 billion passed through all the levels of budgeting. From proposition to going to the house to the committee and coming back to the Governor for Ascent, today, we’re being told that it’s a typographical error. How can a typographical error pass through the process of proposition to the stage of signing into law? At what point did it start?

Udensi said that he is Forensic Investigator which was why he was concerned when the Government said they did a Forensic Investigation on Abia account, adding that nobody cannot do a Forensic Investigation according to the standard operating procedure without ensuring that the records of the auditors and that of the auditee are in consonant with each other.

“You don’t just make one audit and then announce it as Forensic, no. If you’re accusing somebody, the record of the accuser must be in consonant with your own records before it becomes Forensic. I’m a fellow of that Institute, Chartered Institute of Forensic Investigation and I know how it works. You must give us records the way they are so that we can hold the Government to account.

“Let me give you an example, why this is very important, if you’re doing a good job, and suddenly you start mixing the good job you’re doing with some lies, when these lies come out, you’ll lose pathos. You’ll lose the sympathy of the people. You’ll lose the love people have for you and that’s why I’m concerned about this Government. They’re doing marvellously very well in the area of Infrastructure and the people love them.

“Abians today love the job the government of Alex Otti is doing. We should not add falsehood to the beautiful job we’re doing. Look at Lokpanta. I did a personal investigation in Lokpanta. 50 beheaded bodies, 20 decaying bodies and so many bones, I sent people into Lokpanta to find out, we were told that there was gunrunning in the place and that the place was to be closed down. What happened later?

“Look at the case of Local Government funds. The Governor told us in very clear terms that his Government will not touch any local government fund. If he does any, on the contrary, people like us who have discerning spirits, we expect it to be so.”

Udensi stressed that he has no sympathy for N107 billion said to have been embezzled until he sees the facts and investigates the facts.

“If I don’t see the facts, I cannot hold anybody culpable, especially now that the government you’ve accused has come out to tell you, show us the records. The past government has denied making N10 billion payment for any airport.”

Udensi called on Governor Alex Otti to leave the United States of America and return to Abia so everybody can see the records and know the company that was paid those amount of money being mentioned, see the bank it was paid into, see who received the money and then take the right steps.

“N107 billion wasted when salaries and pensions could not be paid, infrastructure was dying and we had N107 billion somewhere? It’s a serious matter for Abians and for us to take it seriously, we must have facts and if those facts are not verifiable, I’ll treat it as fraudulent as I’ve treated the other ones.

“We must do what’s right. What we’re doing today by accusing people without going to court and without showing what they’ve done is wrong and unacceptable for people like me. It may be acceptable to some other persons because we all have our various opinions and procedures. We must do things rightly.

“It was initially said that Abia State didn’t out any investment in Geometric and we’ve found out that it’s not true. Government should give us facts, Government should be factual.

“Before you come to talk to the people, you must have gotten your facts right. You’re doing a good job in infrastructure, continue the good job you’re doing, but tell us the truth. We cannot accept any lies from anybody.”

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