BREAKING NEWS: Ex-officials maintain innocence, as Abia panel recovers more vehicles, other govt property

Ex-officials maintain innocence, as Abia panel recovers more vehicles, other govt property

Ex-officials maintain innocence, as Abia panel recovers more vehicles, other govt property

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Abia State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on the recovery of government property and funds has recovered a Toyota Hilux van from the immediate past Accountant General of the State, Kelechi Imeoria, alleged to have been bequeathed to him by the immediate past Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu through his Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Chris Ezem.

In her remarks, Chairman of the Panel, Justice, Florence Duruoha-Igwe, rtd, directed that the said vehicle be kept at the premises of the panel for thorough investigation.

But the former Accountant General of Abia State, Mr Kelechi Imeoria in his submission, maintained his innocence, saying that his principal gave him the vehicle as a terminal benefit when he represented Abia State as a member of the Non-Ministerial Steering Committee on Economy Advisory Project in the federation, during the outbreak of COVID 19.

He noted that the Toyota Hilux was first used by a former Deputy Accountant General in the s.

The Panel of Inquiry had last week, recovered a Lexus Jeep in lieu of a Hyundai Coaster Bus, 100 KVA Generator and a GeePee water tank from a retired Permanent Secretary in the Abia State Government House, Umuahia, Mr Alozie Odoemelam.

In her address, Justice Duruoha-Igwe said there was no substantial evidence before the panel to show that the retired Permanent Secretary bought the seized vehicle at an auction price.

She said there was no substantial evidence to prove that the seized Generator was bought as scrap, as he had told the panel.

The Counsel to the panel said the 100KVA Generator allegedly bought as scrap by the former Perm Sec, was in good condition when it was bought as scrap.

However, the retired Permanent Secretary of Abia State Government House, Mr Alozie Odoemelam has said that he bought the Hyundai Coaster Bus at auction price as the vehicle was one of those placed for auction, adding that he already paid N320,000 to the Abia State government coffers for the items, out of the total sum of N520,000.

The Counsel to Odoemelam, Obioma Chibuzor in his defence said his client has already supplied sufficient proof before the panel that he bought the vehicles at auction sales.

The Counsel informed the panel that his client paid money into Abia State government coffers, for the items he bought, including the Generator set, which the Counsel said, was bought as scrap.

But the Chairman of the Panel, Justice Florence Duruoha-Igwe directed that the seized items should be kept at the Panel’s premises pending more investigation on them.

Meanwhile, she has ordered the immediate seal off of an oil processing mill under the custody of Mr John Chigbu of Umunkoro Umuominta Mbawsi in Isialangwa North LGA pending further inquiry by the panel.

Defending himself, Chigbu explained that some corporate bodies approached him to donate land where they could install oil processing equipment adding they reached an agreement that they would train two of his children on how to operate them.

Reacting to the development, Abia State Commissioner for Agriculture, Professor Monica Ironkwe declared that there were no substantial documents in her ministry to trace some of the farm plantations and other agricultural sub-stations leased out by the past administrations in the state.

Professor Ironkwe further called for assistance from the Panel to enable her ministry to recover some of the government farm plantations and other agricultural sub-stations alleged to be in the hands of some individuals and corporate organizations.

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