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N1bn STATUES: Probe Okorocha over ‘abuse of office, conflict of interest’, SERAP urges ICPC, CCB

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Muhammad Isah, Acting Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), and Bolaji Owasanoye, Acting Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to “jointly investigate allegations of incompatibility and/or apparent conflict of interest situation, and abuse of office involving Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State in connection with the exercise of his public functions and leadership of the Rochas Okorocha Foundation, and to collaborate with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in any such investigation.”

The organization said “Such investigation would help to improve public confidence in public authorities, and minimize the risks of bad government by public officials.”

In a petition dated November 10, 2017 and signed by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, SERAP expressed “serious concern that Governor Okorocha may have spent over N1 billion of public funds to build statues of South African President Jacob Zuma and Liberian President Mrs Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.”

According to SERAP, “the spending on statues and apparent misuse of public resources may have violated constitutional provisions and international standards on code of conduct for public officers. The initiatives cannot be justified under any circumstances whatsoever, especially at a time when Imo state is unable or unwilling to pay teachers’ salaries and pensioners’ entitlements.”

The petition which had Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in copy, read in part: “Inviting Zuma and Johnson-Sirleaf to attend the opening of his Foundation and then ‘honouring’ them with statues suggests abuse of office and apparent conflict of interest situation, as such acts were undertaken by Governor Okorocha in the exercise of his public functions to presumably promote and advance the commercial and other interests of the Foundation.

Read also: Unruffled by attacks over Zuma’s statue, Okorocha to unveil another sculpture of Liberian President

“SERAP believes that rather than serving the common interest of the public, spending over N1 billion possibly of public funds on Zuma and Johnson-Sirleaf in the context of their participation in the opening of the Rochas Okorocha Foundation would seem to put Governor Okorocha in a conflict of interest situation.

“SERAP notes that the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) and UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party prohibit conflict of interests and set ethical standards for public officers. Indeed, both the Constitution and the Convention require public officers to abstain from all acts that may compromise the exercise of their public office and functions, or are inconsistent with their entrusted positions.

“Public officers also must discharge their public duties truthfully and faithfully, abide by the constitutional code of conduct, observe the primacy of public interest, and not allow their personal interest to influence their official conduct.

“The CCB and ICPC should carry out joint investigation in collaboration with the EFCC of the allegations of conflict of interest, abuse of office and apparent misuse of public funds by Governor Okorocha. SERAP also urges the CCB and ICPC to prosecute Governor Okorocha after leaving office if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence of abuse of public office against him.

“Conflict of interest represents a situation where the person exercising a public function has a personal interest of patrimonial or commercial nature, which could influence the objective fulfilment of the duties incumbent on public officers under the Constitution and international standards.

“Conflict of interest arises from a situation in which a public official has a private interest which is such as to influence or appear to influence the impartial and objective nature of his or her official duties in order to promote private interests, which would be contrary to the public interest.”

 

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  • Solomon Afolayan

    While workers are lamenting over unpaid salaries, a governor is busy casting statue of the unknowns, just continue to do it the way you like, the time of payback is at the door…leaders without sense and vision…

    https://www.eaglesnewsmedia.com/2017/11/the-qualities-i-want-woman-i-will-marry.html?m=1

  • Abeni Adebisi

    The general government of Rochas should be probed for misappropriation of public funds and excess spending on irrelevant things

    • Anita Kingsley

      I hope this will be done. The federal government needs to take this up personally, but the probability of taking it up is very narrow because Okorocha is a friend of the federal government

  • Animashaun Ayodeji

    Nigerians need to start appreciating their icons, if Okorocha had erected any of the country’s past icons, no one will probe whatever amount he claims to spend. The fact that the government planted a South African criminal in his state is more reason to think he has skeletons in his wardrobe, not the amount spent on the statues alone

  • Anita Kingsley

    Nigeria being a country that hat condones corruption and romances indiscipline among its leaders, I’m sure some useless people will applaud okorocha for defacing his state with the statue of corrupt politician who’s currently facing trials in his home country. It is an insult to bring such man to Nigeria for celebration

  • seyi jelili

    Foolish Nigerian governor , how many governors in South Africa or Sierra Leone can erect the status of buhari all in the name of idolising him? They are prudent in spendings

    • yanju omotodun

      Because their citizens vote the right pegs into the right holes unlike we that are glutton for money and bags of rice to buying our conscience in voting wrong person.

  • Balarabe musa

    This okorocha is not a serious person, he must be answerable to imo indigenes, can Zuma ‘s statue give them food and money?

  • JOHNSON PETER

    But the question is this, “has okorocha declared that he used #1bn to erect these statues? The answer is no, so let’s not be too irrational