Governor Theodore Orji
Indications emerged yesterday that the Abia State Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development Fund over the years had served as a drain pipe for Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) with the state losing about N24 billion between 1999 and 2012.
The judicial panel of enquiry set to probe the activities of the fund since inception came up with this findings in a report it submitted to the state governor, Chief Theodore Orji, yesterday at the Government House, Umuahia.
Chairman of the panel, Justice Okey Nwosu, indicted the administration of Orji Uzor Kalu, for using the fund to divert federal allocations accruing to the state and in the process embezzling the sum of N4.2 billion belonging to the fund.
The report, which was contained in four volumes observed that prior to 2009 when the pioneer Board of Trustees (BoT) was constituted by Orji, “the administration of the fund was an all-comers affair and used for self and political aggrandisement.”
The chairman added that due to the absence of a board to administer the fund, “the observance of the Law No. 28 of 1999, which established the Fund was more in the breach” hence it was easy to divert funds accruing to the Fund for unspecified projects and payments.
The seven member panel urged government to implement its recommendation for a comprehensive audit of the Fund in order to “reveal the exact amount and all those involved” in the fraud.
Surprisingly the panel recommended the refund of the only N80 million representing only 0.3 per cent of N24 billion, which the panel discovered to have been lost by the Fund in 13 years.
Orji after receiving the report explained that the panel was set up not to witch hunt anyone but to find out why the Fund has not been living up to expectations and thanked the panel for its painstaking effort in carrying out its assignment.
He recalled that it was the activities of the last chairman of the board, Okey Nwaubani, that led to public outcry on the activities of the fund hence the panel was raised to look into the operations of the fund, adding that the recommendations of the judicial panel would be implemented to the letter.
The governor lamented the colossal revenue loss in the fund, noting that if the money had been injected into the system it would have made a huge difference in the development profile of the state and made huge positive impact on the lives of the citizens.