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Okorocha making a mockery of President Buhari's claims to be fighting corruption

How Rochas Okorocha stole 25.2bn naira ($126.5m) in three months has seen a detailed petition addressed to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Rochas Okorocha, the governor of Imo State, on grounds of a criminal conspiracy to defraud the state.

This is a summary of the signed eight-page petition on the fraudulent diversion for personal use of a loan that has indebted 27 LGAs in Imo State by Rochas Okorocha and his partners in crime.

1. Between September and December 2014, Okorocha, through his relative, the then Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Adaobi Obasi, got the 27 Transition Committee Chairmen of the 27 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the state to agree to a 926m naira ($4.6m) loan each from Zenith Bank. The Chairmen were appointed by the governor.

2. Obasi, who is now the acting Vice Chancellor of Imo State University, asked the Chairmen to come to her office with their Directors of Administration and Government Services (DAGS). The Chairmen and the DAGS are the two signatories to LGA accounts.

3. The Chairmen and the DAGS signed in the commissioner’s office Finance and General Purposes Committee (F&GPC) loan requests each for 926m naira.

4. None of the F&GPCs in the LGAs met to approve the loan requests – as required by law. So the loan requests were forgeries. The Imo State government was then able to secure a loan of 25.2bn naira (926m naira for each of the 27 LGAs) from Zenith Bank. The allocation for the LGA from the federal government was used as collateral for the loan.

5. The entire loan amount (25.2bn naira) was paid into a secret Zenith Bank account, only accessible by Rochas Okorocha.

6. As a reward for fraudulently signing the loan requests, each Chairman got amounts ranging from 50 to 85m naira ($251,000-$426,700).

7. The Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly and members of the House were also rewarded, even though the House never debated the loan requests.

8. Zenith Bank contravened Central Bank of Nigeria regulations that banks shouldn’t grant loans to state governments six months before a transition period. Elections were held in Imo State in March this year and the loans were taken out between September and December last year.

9. Almost all the LGAs in the state have wage bills around 30m naira ($150,600). The LGAs can no longer meet their wage bills as a result of the increasing debt owed to Zenith Bank – that was forced on them by the governor.

10. By mid July 2015 the LGAs received from the federal allocation approximately 5.365bn naira ($26.9m). None of this revenue was paid into LGA accounts. The Nigerian Constitution section 162(6) and (7) state that all LGA revenue must be put in an account called “state joint local government account” and then transferred to the LGA accounts.

11. In June the LGAs received even larger sums from the federal allocation to account for the local government share of VAT, Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) funds, etc. But the LGAs could only pay salary arrears for one month because Zenith Bank used a greater percentage of the revenues to recover their loans. Okorocha has therefore made the LGAs bankrupt and insolvent.

12. Okorocha is charged with diverting loans to LGAs in his state for personal use. His co-conspirators are the 27 Transition Committee Chairmen, the then Commissioner for Local Government Adaobi Obasi, the former Commissioner for Finance, Chike Okafor, who facilitated the fraud as a former Regional Manager Zenith Bank Owerri, and now member of the House of Representatives for Okigwe South, Zenith Bank Owerri, the Imo State House of Assembly, the Accountant-General and the Auditor-General of Imo State.

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