…Says the anti-graft agency will disclose further information in due course
…Imo Gov hands over public hospitals to churches, others
Doosuur Iwambe, Abuja & Val Okara, Owerri
Acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has confirmed that the commission is investigating Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and some other prominent Nigerians.
Magu, who affirmed this while fielding questions from newsmen, said that Okorocha is among those that are being investigated by the commission.
According to the EFCC boss, the commission has to get to a certain level before it can disclose any information about an ongoing investigation.
Asked if an investigation is ongoing regarding the governor, he responded, “definitely. Of course, we are doing a couple of checks and investigations here and there. We are investigating almost everybody,” the EFCC boss added.
While stressing that the commission has to get to a certain level before it can disclose any information about an ongoing investigation, Magu explained that this was necessary to prevent any action that can jeopardise or interfere with the process of the inquiry.
According to him, Governor Okorocha is one of the many people being investigated by the commission.
The EFCC boss said although he was aware of reports of the investigation on the social media, the details the anti-graft agency has was different from what was in the public space.
He, however, declined to disclose the details of the on-going probe by the anti-graft agency.
Magu is in the United Kingdom to meet with investigators assisting the Federal Government in solving cases of money laundering and financial crimes.
Recently, Governor Okorocha gave an indication that he was under the spotlight of the EFCC, saying he is the most investigated governor in the country.
The Daily Times recalls that the commission’s zonal head for South East, Usman Imam, during a briefing over the weekend, disclosed that the state government deployed funds meant for workers during the just concluded general election.
Usman stated that the commission’s operatives blocked accounts belonging to the state government in the build-up to the election following a tip-off.
According to Usman, EFCC’s timely intervention saved the state over N5 billion that would have been deployed for vote buying by the Okorocha’s administration.
He said: “About N7.9 billion is what had been blocked, although with pressure, subsequently, about N2.5 billion was released for salaries. On the whole, we have over N5 billion of those funds blocked; we are following up to see what actually happened.
“Honestly, what we discovered was that within two days, N700 million was withdrawn in cash; N200 million on the first day and N500 million on the second day and all these monies were disbursed in a manner that was honestly unpalatable.
“Distribution to school teachers; I don’t know, schools that you were not funding and you wake up on the eve of the election and withdrew N500 million cash and start distributing N1000 each or so to teachers. Whatever that means, I don’t know.
“When we came in, we were able to save about seventy something million of the funds that we discovered were not disbursed, we also blocked it.
People are still answering questions as to who asked them to move those monies, monies that were blocked at the banks.”
Meanwhile, barely eight days to the end of his administration, Governor Okorocha on Monday handed over 10 state owned general hospitals to churches, private investors, Nigerian Army, Air Force and Navy for management.
The general hospital at Ogwa, Mbaitoli LGA was leased to Anglican Diocese of Owerri; while that of Isiala Mbano was released to Mbano Anglican Diocese, the Lords Chosen Church acquired the hospital at Khaki/ Egbema LGA and in Umuguma, Owerri West LGA to Global Health Services.
Also, that of Ngor Okpala was leased to the Navy; Owerri North to the Air Force; Ideato South to the Nigerian Police; Owerri West to the Army among others.
Okorocha while addressing the new investors at Government House that said the various categories of the lease would last for 25 to 99 years’ period among other conditions attached.
He said the decision was aimed at ensuring quality health care delivery and to fast-tract development in the health sector of the state, stressing that the state adopted the policy because it believed it would render desired services to the people and also encourage F0ederal Government presence in the state.
He stated that no facility has functioned expectedly in the hands of government, hence, Public Private Partnership, PPP, remained better alternative and enjoined the incoming government in the state to consent to the PPP arrangement and also appealed to interested organisations to take advantage of the PPP policy of the state.
“The PPP arrangement is the way to go for our state because I do know that the missionaries and churches run hospitals better than government in most cases.
“I hope the incoming government would consent to this policy to make Imo State grow faster in terms of development.”
To the beneficiaries, the Imo governor said: “By this PPP arrangement, you are expected to manage the hospitals for the number of years contained in the agreement.
We hope that through you and this partnership it will render the necessary services to the people of Imo State.
“Also, we do hope that you make good use of these facilities and keep them in good shape till generations yet unborn. You have no power to lease them out or to sell them.”