107 Billion Ikpeazu Embezzlement: Udensi to Otti: Don’t Mix Your Good Works with Falsehood

Sir Chikwe Udensi, a security consultant with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) has urged Abia State Governor, Dr Alex Otti not to mix his good works with some falsehood when passing information to the people.

Udensi, a chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), said that he is disturbed at the way the current Abia government is treating with kid gloves, the alleged embezzlement of N107 billion Abia money.

He said that the manner Otti’s administration is treating the case of the money it alleged to have been embezzled by the immediate past government of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu after forensic auditing, sends a disturbing signal that such allegations may not be true.

A few days ago, Governor Otti while speaking to some Abia people in the United States said, “N79.3 billion naira was paid to seven Contractors for contracts that were not executed at all. Another 15.9 billion almost 16 billion was paid to 63 contractors with no supporting documents anywhere. Another 13 billion naira was paid to two contractors for contracts that do not exist out of these figures, and 10 billion naira was on September 25, 2020, paid to some contractor for the construction of Abia State Airport.”

Reacting, Udensi during a monitored Radio Phone-in Programme said that he is not taking the state government very seriously in such allegations because there are pieces of evidence to prove that similar previous allegations made by the same government have proven not to be true.

“Some of the organizers of the Governor’s Trip to America are very close to me and known to me. What I asked for is the full record of the whole proceeding not just what the Governor said. However, I’m a bit disturbed that a matter like this is been treated with trivial attitudes. I’m concerned that N107 billion is alleged to have been embezzled and we’re talking about some contractors and using native knowledge to go and locate the airport. We must get serious.

“107 billion? By now we should have commenced a full investigation and all those who are responsible for such heinous arrangements should be in detention if the proper process are taken. What do I mean by proper process, the crime is said to have been committed in Abia State, the alleged suspects are all in Abia State, the investigation was done in Abia State, then the announcement of the results of the investigation was done in the United States of America, he said.

The Security expert said that in his field of security, once they notice something like the above where there seems to be some form of insincerity, they will become apprehensive and begin to wonder what is the purpose of it all.

“You recall that when the governor came in, he indicated that he’s going investigate the regimes that were before him. We were expecting an investigation from 1999 to 2023, but he chose only the Ikpeazu administration to investigate.

“You’ll recall that on open parliament, I criticized it because I was not comfortable with it. When you seem to specify your level of interest, people may become suspicious of what actually your interest is.

“Again given the fact that everybody must remain innocent until proven guilty, you cannot insist by any imagination that anybody is a criminal. Look at what’s happening in social media right now, the trial is going on at social media.

“In Investigation, when you see any of the security agencies start media trial on a case, then they have no case. Go and check it, go and check records. Once they leave the court where you ought to take your matter to and go to the media, you’re playing to the gallery and people like us cannot take you seriously because nothing can be more evil than an accusation that denies the accused the right of defence,” he said.

Udensi frowned against what he termed media persecution of the immediate past government, instead of judicial prosecution, if there are grounds for that, stressing that if anybody is accused, in all honesty, they are allowed to defend themselves before anybody can come out and call them evil.

He said that the fact that he is not in agreement with certain decisions and actions of the Alex Otti-led administration does not mean that the administration is not doing something  in the area of Infrastructure and went ahead to commend the Governor for the efforts so far.

“Let’s look at the things that have happened in Abia State, there are things that make me not take all those records I see seriously because I personally have reasons to question some of the things that are being done in my state. That doesn’t mean that my Governor is not doing something in the area of Infrastructure. I’ve commended him because he’s doing something in the area of Infrastructure, but there are other things that ought to be done and done properly.

“You remember that about 5,000 ghost workers were found, the Governor himself announced it and we said for 5000 ghost workers to be collecting salaries in Abia State without working is a heinous crime. Billions were being paid to them according to Abia State government and we said, these ghost workers in Abia State are being paid through a bank account, let’s have the bank account and names.

“It should be published so that first of all, we can make a mockery of those whose names are there. Nobody can open an account with the necessary requirements like BVN etc. So, these 5,000 ghost workers, how were they being paid? Were they being paid cash? Let’s find out that we have an honest disposition of a government that will give proper information.

“That’s why some of us are very sceptical about the 107 billion that the governor has gone to the press for prosecution. We were told that we’ve cleared nine years of arrears of pension, only for us to realize that only %40 were being paid to them for the past nine months of Otti. What they’re doing right now is the balance of 60% which is what Otti’s administration owed throughout the nine months that they’ve been in government.”

He said it was a shock and that he could not believe his ears when heard that, which led him to make efforts to find out from government officials.

“I was very impressed when the Commissioner for Finance came to the radio station. I still have the record of what he said and I’ve interacted with some of Governor Otti’s officers, what the state government actually paid was the balance of the nine months they owed and not the arrears of nine years that they announced. It was very disturbing when I heard about this level of inconsistency from this government.

“The truth should be told. The truth is simply that the Otti government paid the balance of what it owed and that NUP has arranged with you to forgive the balance. Don’t tell us that you’ve paid the arrears. The truth is what we need. It gives a wrong impression, it gives a wrong note and it gives a confusing arrangement. It deceived the people if I may use proper language.

“You also remember the N1.5 billion that was put in the budget for two Hilux Pickups? This N1.5 billion passed through all the levels of budgeting. From proposition to going to the house to the committee and coming back to the Governor for Ascent, today, we’re being told that it’s a typographical error. How can a typographical error pass through the process of proposition to the stage of signing into law? At what point did it start?

Udensi said that he is Forensic Investigator which was why he was concerned when the Government said they did a Forensic Investigation on Abia account, adding that nobody can do a Forensic Investigation according to the standard operating procedure without ensuring that the records of the auditors and that of the auditee are in consonant with each other.

“You don’t just make one sided audit and then announce it as Forensic, no. If you’re accusing somebody, the record of the accuser must be in consonant with your own records before it becomes Forensic. I’m a fellow of that Institute, Chartered Institute of Forensic Investigation and I know how it works. You must give us records the way they are so that we can hold the past Government to account.

“Let me give you an example, why this is very important, if you’re doing a good job, and suddenly you start mixing the good job you’re doing with some lies, when these lies come out, you’ll lose face. You’ll lose the sympathy of the people. You’ll lose the love people have for you and that’s why I’m concerned about this Government. They’re making good efforts in the area of Infrastructure and the people love they.

“Abians today love some of the  job the government of Alex Otti is doing. We should not add falsehood to the job we’re doing. Look at Lokpanta. I did a personal investigation in Lokpanta. 50 beheaded bodies, 20 decaying bodies and so many bones, I sent people into Lokpanta to find out, we were told that there was gunrunning in the place and that the place was to be closed down. What happened later?

“Look at the case of Local Government funds. The Governor told us in very clear terms that his Government will not touch any local government fund. If he does any, on the contrary, people like us who have discerning spirits, we expect it to be so.”

Udensi stressed that he has no sympathy for N107 billion said to have been embezzled until he sees the facts and investigates the facts.

“If I don’t see the facts, I cannot hold anybody culpable, especially now that the government you’ve accused has come out to tell you, show us the records. The past government has denied making N10 billion payment for any airport.”

Udensi called on Governor Alex Otti to leave the United States of America and return to Abia so everybody can see the records and know the company that was paid those amount of money being mentioned, see the bank it was paid into, see who received the money and then take the right steps.

“N107 billion wasted when salaries and pensions could not be paid, infrastructure was dying and we had N107 billion somewhere? It’s a serious matter for Abians and for us to take it seriously, we must have facts and if those facts are not verifiable, I’ll treat it as fraudulent as I’ve treated the other ones.

“We must do what’s right. What we’re doing today by accusing people without going to court and without showing what they’ve done, it  is wrong and unacceptable to people like me. It may be acceptable to some other persons because we all have our various opinions and procedures. We must do things rightly.

“It was initially said that Abia State didn’t  have any investment in Geometric and we’ve found out that it’s not true. Government should give us facts, Government should be factual.

“Before you come to talk to the people, you must have gotten your facts right. You’re doing some work in infrastructure, continue the good job you’re doing, but tell us the truth. We cannot accept any lies from anybody.”

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