A group named “Abia Concerned Group for Good Governance Advocacy” on Wednesday, said its attention has been drawn to the publication on the Vaguard of 28th June 2021, that House of Assembly will begin probe of ex- Commissioner of Finance over alleged misappropriation of N22bn Paris Club Refund.
Describing the development as “dead on arrival”, the group noted that the probe of any past or present Commissioner of Finance cannot be done on isolation because the Commissioner is an appointee of the Governor who he takes orders from.
According to the statement, it is important to inform the House that a probe against Obinna is invariably a probe against the Government of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu under whose authority the Commissioner for Finance functioned.
It read: For the interest of the public, we wish to make the following clarifications:
- We have always believed that it is the constitutional right of any House of Assembly to engage in over sight function as that is the beauty of democracy.
- That the probe of any past or present Commissioner of Finance cannot be done on isolation because the commissioner is an appointee of the Governor who he takes orders from. So, it is important to inform the House that a probe against Obinna is invariably a probe against the Government of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu under whose authority the Commissioner for Finance functioned.
- Given the aforementioned premises. It is also important to observe the obvious conflicts of interest between the resolutions of the Abia State House of Assembly; the onus of the investigation, vis-a- vis, the alleged culpability of the Former administration of Chief T. A. Orji, who, interestingly, is the father of the current Speaker of the State House of Assembly. If justice is therefore akin to fairness then the Speaker cannot be a Judge in his own case.
- The N22b Paris refund received in 2016 under Okezie Ikpeazu was well utilized for the payment of arrears of salaries inherited and Abia state won award as the best State in deployment of Paris refund from the Governors forum. The issue that should be investigated is the receipt of initial N8.2b in 2011 during Jonathan administration as this funds were hidden from Abians until recently, and the amount paid as consultancy fee.
- It is also a well known fact that the State House of Assembly lack the power to delibrate on a matter that is presently before a court of competent jurisdiction. For the benefit of hindsight the issues in question are before two courts at Abuja for over one year. The reference numbers are as follows: CV/2470/17 FCT High court. FHC/ABCJ/CS323/202.
- Aside the ongoing litigations at the Abuja high court, a similar matter affecting the questionable engagement of two consultants for same Paris club refund between 2011 and 2014 at 20% and 30% by past administration which would have resulted to payment or loss of N11billion Naira as consultancy fee) being 50% of N22billon) except for the diligence of same Mr Obinna Oriaku is also before the EFCC Enugu.
- The ongoing investigation also include the engagement of one of these two consultants by past administration at 25% for the Rivers State oil well refund of N9billon for job not proven. This means that Abia paid out N2.3b.
- It is therefore preposterous that a revered State House of Assembly with the primary task of representing the common man will venture into a deliberate or accidental probe into a matter that is already receiving attention in the law court and EFCC. If the target is one of their series of efforts to victimise Obinna Oriaku then they have to wait longer and in futility as they will surely fail as usual.
- Our group is of the opinion that any attempt to distract the natural course of justice, which portends hope for the majority of Abians, will be resisted by every available legal means.
- In conclusion, we insist that hurriedly setting up an investigation at this ninth hour over a matter that was nearly covered up but for the prying eyes of the EFCC is reactive and diversionary.
- Abians are earnestly looking up to EFCC and the Court to unravel the allegations concerning the claims of the homongous N4.3billion as consultancy charges by certain consultant.
“Abians have once been beaten but are twice shy. This is the time to reclaim our State from the scavengers that have held us down for long,” the statement read.
“Abia Concerned Group For Good Governance Advocacy.”