The EFCC on Wednesday said its Enugu Zonal Office has marked some properties traced to the former Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, and some of his family members.
The EFCC noted that Mr Okorocha’s properties were marked not sealed.
However, the ex-governor’s spokesperson, Sam Onwuemodo, in a telephone interview, told PREMIUM TIMES that the EFCC sealed some properties belonging to his boss in Owerri, the Imo capital.
Mr Okorocha governed Imo between 2011 and 2019 and is currently representing Imo West Senatorial District in the Senate.
Why we ‘marked’ properties- EFCC
The EFCC spokesperson, Tony Orilade, on Wednesday, said the marking of the properties, is as a result of Mr Okorocha’s failure to honour the commission’s invitation for questioning on the acquisition of the properties.
The EFCC listed the properties to include.
“Dews of Hope Hospital traced to Dr. Paschal Obi, former Principal Secretary to ex-governor Okorocha; Market Square Super Market; All in One Shop; and premises belonging to Imo State Broadcasting Corporation now hosting Rochas Foundation College owned by Senator Okoroacha.
“Other properties are, East High Academy and East High College, owned by Okorocha’s daughter, Uloma Okorocha-Nwosu; Royal Spring Palm Hotel and Apartment, a 16 block cum 96 flats and eight bungalows multi-million naira estate traced to Okorocha’s wife.”
The commission noted that at no time did its operatives ‘raid’ nor ‘harass’ anyone in the course of marking the properties.
It added that it had informed the occupants of the facilities “in good time, before taking the action”.
The EFCC further said “it has photo and video evidence that debunk claims that Rochas Foundation College was allegedly raided by the EFCC while in session.”
”This could not be so because the school was not in session and could not have had its students harassed as was fed some online media,” the EFCC said.
The agency also said it would distance itself from ”frivolities and propaganda” sentiments from “the camp of Mr Okorocha”.
”We urge all well-meaning Nigerians to disregard the antics of some unscrupulous politicians and fraudsters who seek to distract the commission from holding them accountable for their nefarious activities.”
When PREMIUM TIMES asked Mr Orilade if the commission had issued an invitation before carrying out the action and if it got a court order, he said he did not have information on when a letter was sent and who it was addressed to.
He said the matter is still under investigation.
”Since they refused to show up, now that it has been marked, we believe they would show up now or in court. We sent the invitation in the course of our investigation. I do not have the information when the letter was sent. Our activities with respect to our action are within the ambits of the law,” Mr Orilade said.
Mr Onwuemodo, the ex-governor’s spokesperson, accused the EFCC of rushing to seal up the properties “ahead of their response to the commission’s invitations”.
According to the EFCC’s letter of invitation seen by PREMIUM TIMES, the letter was addressed to Uloma Rochas – Nwosu, of East High Primary and Secondary School.
Mrs Nwosu is married to Uche Nwosu, Mr Okorocha’s ex-lands commissioner.
Also, the letter was dated Tuesday, July 22. Mrs Nwosu was asked to honour the invite on or before Wednesday, July 31.
Mr Onwuemodo said the EFCC lied by saying they had invited Mrs Nwosu and others severally without responses.
”The EFCC letter was dated Tuesday, July 22 (23), 2019, and by 6 am on Wednesday, July 23 (24), 2019, they had taken action. And in the letter, they asked them to come on Wednesday 31, 2019,” Mr Onwuemeodo said.
The aide accused the current governor of the state, Emeka Ihedioha “and other APC members in Imo state of conniving with the commission to witch-hunt Mr Okorocha.”
”What is obvious is that the PDP government in the State with Chief Emeka Ihedioha as governor and all the PDP Chieftains who felt politically displaced from 2011 to 2019 by Rochas Okorocha had come together to launch a war against Rochas and his family. And APC members.”
Ihedioha denies involment
Meanwhile, Mr Ihedioha, Mr Okorocha’s political foe, has distanced himself from the allegations.
According to a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Chibuike Onyeukwu, on Wednesday, it described Mr Okorocha’s utterances as ”deliberate lies and misrepresentation of facts”.
Mr Onyeukwu said the Ihedioha-led administration is founded on the respect for rule of law and due process and therefore “would not stealthily petition or engage in a clandestine war against the ex-governor and family”.
‘It would be recalled that Governor Ihedioha has since set up committees that are looking into the various actions undertaken by the past administration.
“It is also necessary to remind that the EFCC had, before the inauguration of this administration, begun a probe of the former governor over issues of misappropriation of the state’s funds, including; bailout funds, Paris Club refund, Local Government fund, and other financial crimes.
”It is also on record that the commission had made public the freezing of a bank account, with a balance of over N5 billion, operated by the past administration as a result of fraudulent activities. Could Governor Ihedioha have influenced this action?”
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