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N13 billion Imo LGA fraud: can corruption probe corruption?

By Ekene Bob-Ekechukwu

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Recently, the social media has been inundated with a well articulated petition by Citizen Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha to Gov Hope Uzodinma alleging a fraud of about N13 billion against the Auditor -General for Local Government, Mr. Reuben Osita Nwosu & co.

In these hard times, when government is unable to meet most of it’s financial obligations, it is very annoying, howbeit wicked for one single individual or a group of persons, to allegedly corner such a stupendous amount of our patrimony to themselves.

In other words, it is not out of place to say that the allegations should be taken seriously by any competent and sincere government.

Ekene Bob-Ekechukwu
The author, Barr. Ekene Bob-Ekechukwu

Imolites were bemused at the reason why Gov Uzodinma was delaying in acting on the petition, when the news that he had ordered the Department of State Services (DSS) to investigate the matter was made public by the petitioner.

The involvement of the DSS to investigate a very serious case of State fraud such as this, instead of the regular anti-graft agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission (ICPC) is suspicious.

Any right thinking person can smell a rat in the whole arrangement because there is no need to involve the DSS in this matter when the EFCC/ICPC are there. The primary duty of the DSS is State security and not investigation of financial crimes.

Our government should stop compromising the professional rectitude of the DSS with such unprofessional assignments.

Presently, there are more serious security challenges in the State and even nationwide that should keep the DSS very busy, instead of over-stretching their already understaffed personnel with investigations of fraud.

Social critiques believe that by assigning the fraud matter to DSS instead of the EFCC/ICPC, the governor has clearly demonstrated his insincerity in bringing the perpetrators of this grand heist to book.

Howbeit, this is not the first time the government is clearly showing it’s lack of political will to prosecute fraudsters and criminal offenders in the State.

The government had on a few occasions announced that it had uncovered a cabal that padded salaries in the civil service with ghost workers. Ditto with that of State pension payroll scammers.

Yet not a single person had been arrested let alone prosecuted for the said offences. Sometime last year, pensioners lawfully demonstrating for payment of arrears of their pensions were flogged in front of the government house, by thugs allegedly sponsored by the State government.

The government denied the allegation but it has neither arrested nor prosecuted any of the offenders till date. Recently the Catholic Auxillary Bishop of Owerri Archdiocese, Most Rev Moses Chikwe was abducted in broad daylight by unknown persons.

Although the Bishop had since regained his freedom, government has been unable to neither arrest nor prosecute the perpetrators of the dastardly act. Ditto the case of the former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Owerri Branch, N. H. Nwankwo Esq. who was gruesomely butchered in his office with a cutlass.

The list of examples of the government’s lack of political will to curb crime in the State is unexhaustive. This has led to an unprecedented escalation of crime rate in the State formerly rated as one of the most peaceful and safe places to be in Nigeria.

Nevertheless, Imolites are again watching to see the outcome of the investigation of the allegations of humongous fraud against Mr. Nwosu & co.

While a school of thought believe that such heavy State fraud couldn’t have been committed without the complicity of some top government functionaries, others think otherwise. However, the eventual outcome of this investigation will tell the people which school of thought to believe.

But it must be sounded clearly here, that the said looted 13 billion naira is our common patrimony which must be recovered at all cost. The State is already heavily ladened with debts and the economy is in intensive care.

The people are in anguish. Failure to recover the said money may further compound the economic woes of the State. Also the perpetrators of this obvious crime against humanity must also be made to face the wrath of the law.

Otherwise Imolites will conclude that there is no government in Imo and this may lead to anarchy as many aggrieved citizens may be compelled to embark on the path of self-help and jungle justice.

Ekene Bob-Ekechukwu Esq. is a socio-political/ public affairs analyst.

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