N1bn Statues: Group Asks CCB, ICPC To Probe Okorocha
It appears the statues of some African leaders that the Governor of Imo State, Mr Rochas Okorocha, unveiled in the last few weeks are attracting more attention and this time it may be trouble for the state government.
Governor Okorocha had said he owed no one an apology for his alleged use of 1 billion Naira to erect statues of some African leaders in his state.
A group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has asked Dr Muhammad Isah Acting Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and Professor Bolaji Owasanoye Acting Chairman of Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to probe Governor Okorocha.
SERAP wants the agencies to “jointly investigate allegations of incompatibility and/or apparent conflict of interest situation, and abuse of office involving Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State in connection with the exercise of his public functions and leadership of the Rochas Okorocha Foundation.
It also wants the agencies to collaborate with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the investigation.
The organisation said that “such investigation would help to improve public confidence in public authorities, and minimise the risks of bad government by public officials".
In the petition dated 10 November 2017 and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni, SERAP expressed “serious concern that Governor Okorocha may have spent over 1 billion Naira of public funds to build statues of South African President Jacob Zuma and Liberian President Mrs Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf".
According to the rights group, “the spending on statues and apparent misuse of public resources may have violated constitutional provisions and international standards on code of conduct for public officers.
"The initiatives cannot be justified under any circumstances whatsoever, especially at a time when Imo state is unable or unwilling to pay teachers’ salaries and pensioners’ entitlements".
The petition copied to Ibrahim Magu Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) read: “Inviting Zuma and Johnson-Sirleaf to attend the opening of his Foundation and then ‘honouring’ them with statues suggests abuse of office and apparent conflict of interest situation, as such acts were undertaken by Governor Okorocha in the exercise of his public functions to presumably promote and advance the commercial and other interests of the Foundation.
“SERAP believes that rather than serving the common interest of the public, spending over N1 billion possibly of public funds on Zuma and Johnson-Sirleaf in the context of their participation in the opening of the Rochas Okorocha Foundation would seem to put Governor Okorocha in a conflict of interest situation.”
“SERAP notes that the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) and UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party prohibit conflict of interests and set ethical standards for public officers".
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