Alleged Misuse Of Over N800m Imo LGA Council Funds Hits Owerri West LGA, Barr.Eluchie Calls For Probe
The immediate past Interim Management Committee, IMC, Member of Owerri West LGA Imo State, Hon.Barr.Eze Eluchie, LL.B., LL.M., Bl., has expressed dismay over the ways and manners in which the Local Govt.funds-allocations from the Federal Govt.accounts was misappropriated, misused and the financial recklessness of the Owerri West IMC Chairman,Hon.Innocent Ekenma, for the period of his 8 months in the office as the boss of the council.
The fearless legal luminary who is hails from Irete Owerri West LGA,Imo State,while speaking to newsmen thanked God for giving him the wisdom and boldness to inform the general public know about the financial improprieties of Hon.Ekenma’s LGA administration in Owerri West.
Barr.Eluchie, who is the President, Civil Society Network on Substance Abuse, and a former member of the Owerri West LGA Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the immediate past Rebild Mission of the sacked Imo Governor, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, was at his Irete Country Home,last Sunday, Jan 26th 2020, expressed sadness, worry and dissatisfaction over what he described height of financial injustice against the masses by the past council leadership under Ekenma, even as he called on the Imo Governor, Sen.Hope Uzodinma, to probe the financial activities of the Imo LGA’s for period of 8 months of operations.
“We are sincerely calling on the response to the financial improprieties and misappropriation of funds in the LGA administration system in Imo State, especially in Owerri West”, Eluchie submitted.
“The monumental scale of financial improprieties and financial misappropriation which I witnessed during my stint as an integral part of the Local Government Administration in the immediate past regime of Chief Emeka Ihedioha,as member of the Owerri West LGA Interim Management Committee during that Government. At this very onset, one thing we would have deciphered from this information is you all would by now put a face behind the documents that had been in the public domain for quite awhile (documents that were earlier circulated to various media houses operating in Imo State on the 12th day of January”, he stated.
” Before now I have scripted, publicized and distributed to the appropriate persons/offices/authorities during the pendency of the government of Chief Ihedioha. There had been a gradual, progressional expansion of the copy-list of the correspondences (copies of which are with all of you here), culminating with the open letter to the former Governor, Chief Ihedioha. My Letter of Resignation from the Interim Management Committee, which would have been formally publicized at a Media Briefing earlier scheduled for immediately after the outcome of the Supreme Court judgement, wasb already forwarded to key stakeholders of the erstwhile government. This Media Briefing was scheduled prior to the outcome of the Supreme Court judgement. The content of the Briefing is same and would be germane irrespective of the occupant of Government House, Owerri. In this teething period of the new administration, as we witness the inception of a new administration in Imo State, the government led by Chief Hope Uzodinma, albeit via the Supreme Court judgement which ousted the Chief Ihedioha Government, it behooves on all concerned with the enthronement of good governance, accountability and due processes in Imo State, to do whatsoever in their varying capacities to ensure that loopholes and drainpipes are plugged, impure and obscure practices are checked and routes of wastage of public funds are not replicated or carried over to become norms of Imo State public financing practices”, Barr.Eze disclosed.
He therefore called on the strict monitoring and enforcement of the funds paid directly to the LGA Accounts to show real, not just mere cosmetic, autonomy of the said LG Councils.
The legal practitioner,Eluchie, while speaking, therefore called on the Federal Government to use the instrumentality of the Constitution which recognizes only ‘’Democratically Elected Local Government Council’’, to ensure that only LGA’s that are administered by democratically elected LG Council receive their allocations from the Federation Account.
“A grace period not exceeding 3 months can be accorded to States to conduct their LGA Elections – after which, whatsoever funds that should accrue to LGA’s which are not governed in consonance with constitutional provisions SHOULD be withheld by the Federal Government and deposited into an interest yielding account with the Central Bank for eventual release to the concerned LGA’s whensoever they regularize (are governed by elected LG Councils).
He condenmed the system whereby LGA Directors of Administration and General Services (DAGS) and Treasurers form a cartel which clogs up the LGA system is injurious to the peoples at the grassroots levels.
“The lackadaisical manner with which LGA staff approach their duties robs off poorly on the Local Councils, stifling development initiatives and potentials”, he maintained.
“From June 2019 till date, no LGA in Imo State has received less than One Hundred Million Naira (N100,000,000.00) every single month. A visit to any of the LGA across the State will elicit shock as to the amount of funds that have come into the coffers of the LGA’s in Imo State – with absolutely nothing, save for payment of staff salaries and the commencement of building works of ‘’new secretariat complex and mini-stadia’’. Some of the LGA’s, like Owerri West where I served in the immediate past defunct Interim Management Committee, received in excess of Eight Hundred Million (N800,000,000.00) from June uptill December 2019. It is a shame to all concerned that nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, not even the grading of rural feeder roads during the yuletide season, was executed with the humongous sums received”, he submitted.
The legal expert, Eluchie, furthermore called on the Imo State Government under Gov.Uzodinma should as a matter of urgency, institute a Judicial Panel of Inquiry into the management, appropriation and use or misuse of all funds accruing to the now disbanded Interim Management Committees across the State, most that of Owerri West.
“It has been intended that this call would have been made to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in view of the fact that my various calls to the erstwhile Government of Chief Ihedioha had not met with positive considerations”, Barr.Eze noted.
Meanwhile, all candid efforts severally made to contact Hon.Innocent Ekenma on his telephone lines proved abortive as at the press time.