How N10bn airport fund was wired into 32 accounts — Abia Govt 

…Says those indicted, now guests to EFCC

By Steve Oko

After weeks of speculations and war of words between the Media Aides of the incumbent Gov. Alex Otti, and his predecessor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia State Government, has finally released the much-expected forensic audit report of Ikpeazu’s administration.

The 360-page dossier was released by the Commissioner of Information, Prince Okey Kanu, after the State Executive Council meeting press briefing Monday night.

A perusal of the document compiled by a renowned global audit firm,  Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler, KPMG, shows various financial transactions and alleged infractions by the immediate-past administration in the state.

It also contains details of how the administration authorized the release of N10 billion from the state coffers for the purpose of building Abia Airport, and later instructed the contractor to wire the fund into 32 different accounts.

Former Gov. Ikpeazu had since denied any culpability in the airport contract, explaining that based on request by traditional rulers, the fund was redeployed to road infrastructural development.

Before releasing the dossier Monday night,  the Information Commissioner said said it had become necessary for members of the public to peep into the document and keep them abreast with facts of what truly transpired instead of getting carried away by the propaganda of those who felt exposed by the report.

“So, we are going to release the report. We want people to read it and interpret it. The report is ready in its content,” he declared.

Adding his voice, Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr Ferdinand Ekeoma, said that some of those indicted by the report were already guests of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC.

 “The EFCC has started inviting those indicted by KPMG report. ” We are talking of N62 billion and not N10 paid out in a COVID-19 year for building a non existent airport!

” You made transactions even before getting approval for the payments? Instead of being ashamed for doing a despicable thing that they did, they are on the media shamelessly mounting a propaganda.

“The audit is not directed at anybody, however, the actors have the opportunity to defend themselves.”

Responding to a question on why the Governor decided to commission an audit firm to audit the finances of the state under the watch of the former Governor when a probe panel was already set up to investigate the past administration, Ekeoma said the decision was in order.

He explained that there was nothing wrong with engaging a reputable audit firm with track record of competence, integrity and experience to professionally audit the state accounts to eliminate unnecessary doubts.

Ekeoma challenged those who felt exposed by the shocking revelations in the report to rather go to the EFCC with their facts and clear their names instead of resorting to media war to confuse the gullible with fabricated documents.

On the claims by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, that the State Government was  embarking on further verification exercises for Abia workers, the Information Commissioner dismissed it as untrue.

According to him, the government only asked the workers to upload their credentials online.

Recall that NLC had directed workers not to subject themselves to any further verification exercise as allegedly requested by Government via a circular.

The Information Commissioner explained that the delays in the verification of some public servants were not the making of Government but caused by errors in Bank Verification Numbers (BVN), issues of joint accounts, of the affected persons, among others.

He explained that Gov. Otti’s administration places high premium on the welfare of workers, and urged workers not to buy into the propaganda of the opposition that could not pay them when they were in power.

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