There is this story making the rounds in Akwa Ibom State, versions of which have even been posted on the internet, that the office of the State Accountant General (AG), and that of the Chairman of the state’s Board of Internal Revenue (BIR) have been sealed up and that the officials in charge of those offices are being investigated for financial irregularity.
The rumour mill is also rife with speculation that the immediate past Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Umana Okon Umana, was being mentioned in connection with the alleged financial irregularity in the two public offices.
We learn that the reason for linking Umana with the current situation in the offices of the AG and Chairman BIR is to frame up the former SSG on trumped up charges, thereby creating a pretext to arrest so that he can be physically eliminated while in prison in order to stop him from contesting the forthcoming PDP governorship primary. Much as we care about Umana’s safety and pray every day that he should come to no harm, our chief concern now is to clear the air on the plot to harm his reputation with a smear campaign about his involvement in alleged financial scam in the aforementioned offices.
We want to state categorically that whatever is being speculated in a desperate plot to connect Umana Okon Umana with the issues of fraud or unaccountable funds in the offices of the state Accountant General and/or the Chairman BIR is completely false.
Such allegation, if it comes to pass, would not only be false but would be clearly motivated by political vendetta. There can never be any logical and defensible reason to link the former SSG to whatever challenges the state administration is having with its revenue staff. The mandate of the office of the SSG does not include the supervision of the Board of Internal Revenue and the Office of the Accountant General. The Chairman BIR and the AG do not report to the SSG. So Umana could not have had supervisory authority over the two officials and they could not have reported to Umana while he served as SSG.
The two officials report to the Governor and the Ministry of Finance.
Further on the background to job specifications in order to show the implausibility of any allegation of complicity in any wrongdoing (s) that may have been found in the offices mentioned, Umana was not a signatory to any government accounts while he served as SSG. On account of clearly established boundaries to statutory functions in government, Umana as SSG had nothing to do with the functions assigned to the AG and the Chairman BIR, which functions are the subject at issue in the alleged ongoing investigation into financial irregularities in the two offices.
In light of what has been established above, why would this false allegation be made against the former SSG and not the Governor or the Head of Service or the Deputy Governor? And why is the story coming out now, on the eve of the PDP governorship primary, as it were, in which Umana has obvious interest?
To the good people of Akwa Ibom State, we would like to urge calm, because he who alleges must prove it. If, for instance, an official falsely claims without any evidence that he paid money to the former SSG, and the former SSG in turn also claims without any evidence that he handed the entire amount to the Governor, would those claims stand up to scrutiny just because they said so without discharging the burden of proof? The speculation that the former SSG could be complicit in any financial scam in the management of revenues in the AG’s office and the office of Chairman BIR is absolutely ridiculous.
We hereby challenge those who are behind this story to produce the evidence that shows the involvement of the former SGG in any financial irregularity that may have been discovered in the offices of the AG and Chairman BIR. It is not enough to make claims for political reasons, or indeed any other reasons for that matter. The fact remains that the Office of the SSG had absolutely nothing and still statutorily has nothing to do with internally generated revenues. Any claim to the contrary must show proof of evidence.
We would like at this point to make it abundantly clear that the speculation about the involvement of the former SSG in financial wrongdoing(s) in the offices of the AG and Chairman BIR should not be seen as an isolated attempt at casting aspersion on the reputation of Umana Okon Umana. In the last three months, forces that are not comfortable with the rising popularity of the former SSG and his growing political clout have resorted to smear campaigns to blackmail and stop him from pursuing his political aspiration. First, they came with a bogus story about debt to AMCON by a company in which Umana is not a director, and when that did not fly they sought to frame him up with a petition to the authorities in Abuja that the former SSG was importing arms to foment trouble in the state. Both plans failed because they were erected on quick sands of falsehood.
In all of this, we need to ask what the real offence is that Umana Okon Umana has committed to warrant the most vicious, most unrelenting campaign of persecution against a private citizen in the history of our state. The real offence is that Mr. Umana has dared to exercise his right like any other citizen to aspire to the office of governor of the state.
I would like the good people of Akwa Ibom State to know that with God we shall prevail. They should continue to trust in Him, support Umana Okon Umana and ignore all the baseless lies being fomented against him.
Media Adviser to Umana Okon Umana