Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has debunked reports in the social media and a national daily that he had fled Nigeria because of investigations by the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC) into how some of his aides diverted N2 billion bailout funds for the state.
The EFCC had last week reportedly arrested Okorocha’s aides for pocketing the bailout funds.
The aides, Obi Paschal Chigozie, Principal Secretary to the Governor; Uzoho Casmir, Director of Finance and Iheoma Kenneth, Treasurer, Government House, landed in the anti-graft agency’s net for allegedly diverting N2billion bailout fund meant for payment of salary arrears of the state’s civil servants.
However, in a press briefing at Government House, Owerri, on Saturday morning, Okorocha described the report as blackmail because he didn’t “jet out” to anywhere as insinuated in the reports.
He said the original report was written by a journalist who hails from the same place as his political rival in the 2015 governorship election in the state and has always written negative reports about him and the government of the state.
“If I am with you journalists here this morning, when someone wrote and published yesterday that I had jetted out because of EFCC, you can imagine the level of falsehood or mischief.
“I won’t take any legal action against the Thisday Newspaper, but I only need a retraction because the story was not true. The newspaper was deceived by the reporter.
“For a long time, I have not traveled out of the country. So the report was mischievous. The PDP has persisted on impugning on the image of the government. I call on them to leave such acts as this is the time to face governance and development”.
On the EFCC issue, the governor remarked that, “the EFCC querying the alleged diversion of N2billion is not out of place as the Commission has visited the state more than fifty times over the past four years and the state has always come out clean. For every report or petition or allegation made to EFCC, it is binding on them to investigate it whether founded or unfounded. That does not mean that the allegation is true”.
He continued, “Every worker in the state was paid beyond the bailout fund and period. The state used the bail¬out fund judiciously. The records are clear and accessible. There is nothing like diversion as alleged. You know the PDP elements are good in writing petitions. They have no other business at the moment than to write petitions.
“They wrote petitions, and made allegations. The EFCC acted on the petitions and were disappointed after their investigations. The Principal Secretary, Dr. Pascal Obi reported to be detained by the EFCC is the one by my side.
These people tell a lot of lies.
“I want the EFCC to come as many times as possible so that when you leave government, it will be better for you. The government has performed much more than what the resources available can do. People should come and ask me what is the secret and how I have been able to achieve all these, instead of writing petitions. It is all about vision and ideas”.