[The Activism Blog] SERAP calls for probe of Okorocha over N1bn statues

Despite the uproar that greeted the unveiling of the South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma statue in Imo state few weeks ago, the Imo state Governor in defiance of public outcry once again “rolled out the carpet” for the outgoing Liberia President Mrs Johnson Ellen Sirleaf on November 10 & 11, 2017 in Owerri as she received a “chieftaincy” title courtesy of Okorocha’s Imo state Traditional Council.

The day after, a road named after her was “commissioned” and another statue of her was unveiled in the same location the south African President statue was erected. As expected the outcry this time around is more as Nigerians finds it unbelievable that a state owing its civil servants for several months still has the financial resources to waste on things that will benefit no one other than the Private investment of the Imo state Governor which is the Rochas Foundation College for Africa.

Lending its voice to the condemnation is The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) which has called for a probe of the affairs of the Imo state Governor. SERAP’s executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni made the call in a statement on Sunday November 12, 2017.

SERAP states that “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.

“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.

SERAP concludes that “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.”

The statement by SERAP aptly captures the shameful conduct of the Imo state Governor in erecting statues at a time the state workers are hungry and his seeming obsession with the illusion of public image rather than good governance.

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