Imo State government has stated that former Governor, Emeka Ihedioha is trying hard to return to the office to avoid being probed for his administration’s alleged misdeeds.
A whistleblower, Obodozie Ihezue, had alleged in a May 8 petition to the House of Assembly that over N78.4 billion spent in seven months by the Ihedioha administration cannot be accounted for.
The state Auditor-General for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs had issued an interim audit report detailing how N19.63b fraudulently disappeared from the Local Government accounts between May and December 31, 2019 under Ihedioha.
None of the allegations against Ihedioha has been proven, nor is he on trial for corruption. He has also consistently denied any wrongdoing.
The governor could not be reached yesterday for comments as his media aide did not pick or return his calls.
The state said it was awaiting the outcome of the various panels investigating the short-lived administration.
Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, claimed that Ihedioha’s bid to return to power was not in the people’s interest but borne from the need for self-preservation.
He implied that Ihedioha was behind a suit seek further judicial interpretation of a matter already decided by the Supreme Court in favour of Governor Hope Uzodimma.
Emelumba claimed that since the Supreme Court removed Ihedioha from office early this year, the former governor had been making moves to return to power rather than accept his fate.
“Apart from abusing court processes by filing multiple suits on matters already resolved by the Supreme Court, Ihedioha had been sponsoring protests against the government of Hope Uzodinma in the vain hope of portraying it as unpopular,” the commissioner said.
He noted that that unlike Celestine Omehia of Rivers, Prof Osunbor of Edo and Chris Ngige of Anambra states, all of whom were removed by the Supreme Court but accepted their fate, Ihedioha had refused to move on.
Emelumba said unlike Ihedioha who made excuses for not completing certain projects, Uzodinma has been executing road and other projects despite the rainy season.
He urged Ihedioha and his supporters to accept their fate over a matter that has been settled.
To him, Ihedioha as a young man with a political future ought to have moved on after the Supreme Court judgment.
He said the former governor may be “squandering whatever goodwill he has left on unnecessary and repetitive litigations”.
“If truly he is working for the interest of lmo people, why this level of desperation and why is he afraid of a probe?
“These are the questions men of goodwill should ask Ihedioha,” Emelumba said.
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had adjourned till Monday a suit by the Reform and Advancement Party (RAP) and its 2019 governorship candidate, Mr Okere Kingdom, asking the court to restrain Uzodimma from acting as governor.
Kingdom, a lawyer, claims that Uzodimma was occupying the seat illegally, having not participated in the 2019 election as a candidate of any political party.
The plaintiffs are seeking a judicial interpretation on whether the All Progressives Congress (APC) indeed sponsored Uzodimma for the poll.
Kingdom said the suit was predicated on the judgment of the Supreme Court which affirmed Uche Nwosu as the duly nominated 2019 Imo governorship candidate of the APC.
He wants the court to determine whether Uzodinma lawfully participated and was sponsored by the APC to contest the 2019 Imo governorship election under Section 177 (c) of the 1999 Constitution.
“This is having regard to the tenor, clear and unambiguous legal implications/consequences of the judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in appeal no: SC/1384/2019, which upheld the decision of both the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court and affirmed Nwosu as the authentic and duly elected/nominated 2019 Imo State governorship candidate of the APC,” Kingdom said.