By Sussan Ogadimma. Chief press secretary and senior reporter /advert executive to evergreen newspaper and online media
Former Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, has replied the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), saying that the Commission never recovered N7.9 billion or another money from him.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Sam Onwuemeodo, yesterday, he maintained that it only seized the account belonging to the Imo State Government at the twilight of his administration in 2019.
The Port Harcourt Zonal head of the Commission, Mr. Usman Imam, had on Thursday claimed that the anti-graft agency had seized and recovered the above mentioned amount from Okorocha when he was the governor of the state, disclosing that over N5.2 billion was returned from the funds to Imo State Government under the watch of the sacked governor, Emeka Ihedioha.
Imam also explained that about N514 million was subsequently returned to the incumbent administration of Hope Uzodimma.
But Senator Okorocha, who represents Imo West in the upper chambers of the National Assembly, urged the Commission to authenticate its claim by publishing details of the said recovered accounts, including the owners of the accounts, for clarity to the public’s understanding.
The Senate Committee Chairman on Culture also demanded retraction in order to let the world know the correct facts.
The statement said: “The media had reported the Head of the Port Harcourt zone of the EFCC, Mr. Usman Imam, to have claimed at a press conference, on Thursday, June 11, 2020, that he recovered N7.9 billion from the former governor of the state, Senator Rochas Okorocha while he was in charge of Enugu zone of the Commission.
“He was also quoted to have talked about Okorocha’s properties marked in Owerri and Abuja.
“In reaction, we want to state as follows: The EFCC or Mr Usman Imam as a person and Head of Enugu zone then, and today, that of Port Harcourt Zone, never recovered N7.9 billion or any other amount of money, from Rochas Okorocha.
“With this denial, we therefore challenge EFCC or Mr. Imam as the one who made the claim, to prove us wrong by publishing details of the Bank Accounts the money was found and the owners of the accounts.
“We hold the EFCC and its personnel in very high esteem. And we expect the Commission to take our denial very serious, because Nigerians of goodwill would like to know who is saying the truth or who is lying.”
Okorocha maintained: “Where the Commission finds out that it had misinformed the public and had also blackmailed the former Imo governor, perhaps unconsciously, we expect the Commission or Mr. Imam to do the needful, which is to retract the media statement and then tell Nigerians the correct story. The N7.9 billion in question must be in bank accounts. Let the EFCC publish the Accounts’ Details without delay.”
On the property belonging to the former Imo governor, but seized, the statement clarified: “Mr Imam talked about properties owned by Okorocha, which the Commission had marked. It is also important that Mr. Imam publishes those properties because Okorocha had acquired the properties marked about 20 years ago. Since Mr. Imam has begun media trial, let the properties be also published for Nigerians to know the truth.