Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State has said that his predecessor, Rochas Okorocha, operated 250 bank accounts as opposed to the Treasury Single Account being implemented by the Federal Government and many other states.
Ihedioha said of the 250 accounts, 150 were domiciled in Zenith Bank alone while the others were scattered across other financial institutions.
The governor said during Okorocha’s eight-year tenure, Imo State lost 150 cases in court which led to punitive damages amounting to N32bn.
Ihedioha said this while meeting with online reporters in Owerri, the Imo State capital, on Tuesday.
He said, “We set up a financial advisory committee led by Abraham Nwankwo, a reputable professional with a good record with DMO (Debt Management Office). Everybody knows he does not take bribes. That is how we found out the state has over 250 bank accounts. I’m commencing TSA tomorrow to sanitise the state’s finances.
“When we implement TSA, people will begin to have some sense of confidence in what we do. You were asking about my priority, it is fundamental to restore confidence in governance. The government also want to prioritise local government autonomy.”
The governor added that the Imo State Government under Okorocha was ordered by several courts to pay N32bn in damages to several individuals and companies thereby plunging the state deeper in debt.
The former Speaker of the House of Representatives said Okorocha failed to take advantage of Federal Government interventions despite being an All Progressives Congress governor.
Ihedioha added, “In the last eight years, Imo did not access any of the Federal Government support funds. We did not benefit from any Federal Government project and he was chairman of the APC Governors’ Forum.
“He could not attract Federal Government projects to the state but instead built a prison and new police headquarter with billions of naira and handed over to the Federal Government. He was confiscating land left right and centre; litigation everywhere.
“We have over 150 court judgements against us. There are over N32bn outright judgments against us. Banks are taking our money as soon as they land in the accounts. We had some people in government conniving with contractors to get judgements against the state in Abuja.”
The governor said his predecessor, who is from Ogboko in Ideato South, could not even attract development to his own local government.
He added, “In Ideato South Local Government where the former governor comes from, they haven’t had light for eight years. The man said he was doing concession but state assets were sold off. To who? Himself? You said you sold for N3bn? Where are the records of sale? Who did you pay to?
“Have you gone to the state secretariat? There are 10 buildings inside the secretariat. Last week, I just woke up and told my people let’s go to the secretariat. You need to see the place. They have four generators but none was working. Everywhere they had a cluster of all these small generators called ‘I pass my neighbour’, that’s what they use to power the place.
“I was shocked when they told me they have not had public power supply for eight years. I now asked what will it cost the former government to reconnect the electricity. The roofs too were leaking.”
Ihedioha said even in the area of sports, his predecessor failed to maintain the stadium, hence the decision of the Nigeria Football Federation to disregard it.
“Our stadium here has been banned by NFF, we cannot play matches. We have to go to Okigwe for football matches. We have started governance with professionals that are distinguished in their chosen field,” he stated.
Attempts to speak with Okorocha’s Spokesman, Sam Onwuemeodo, proved abortive as he did not respond to five telephone calls and a text message as of press time.
However, Okorocha, who is also being probed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has repeatedly denied allegations of financial impropriety and mismanagement of the state’s assets.
Last week he called on his successor to focus on governance and stop telling lies.