Home News N10b Abia airport fund: I’m not interested in jailing Ikpeazu — Otti

N10b Abia airport fund: I’m not interested in jailing Ikpeazu — Otti

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As the controversy over how the administration of former Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, allegedly spent a whopping N10 billion for a non-existent airport project continues to rage, the incumbent Gov. Alex Otti, has said that he was not interested in jailing anybody but only after the recovery of the fund.

Gov. Otti who spoke while responding to a question during a media parley, Thursday night, opened the can of worm on how his predecessor allegedly paid the largesse into the account of a company that never bided for the project and later instructed the firm to wire the fund into 32 different accounts in tranches.

Otti who wondered what else the act could be called other than graft, vowed that it was either those who swallowed the fund vomited it or “they show us the airport”.

The Governor who said he was not surprised at the initial attempt by his predecessor to deny the withdrawal of the fund from the state coffers, added that all those who played any role in the movement of the fund would certainly have a date with the security agencies.

Gov. Otti promised that very soon the entire forensic audit report conducted by a reputable audit firm would be made public.

He said: “The immediate-past Governor’s denial is not unexpected. First of all, when it was announced they went to the media abusing the Government and saying the Government lied, that there was nothing like that.

“ Then when a media house that got hold of the report published it, of course, the next thing was to attempt to explain it away. But that was a report by a very reputable audit firm – KPMG. So, what they said was that they diverted the money into roads. Therefore, it’s up to them to come and show us the roads.

“But what is true is that bank statement on the 25th of September 2020 when COVID-19 was dealing with people, a debit went into the state account for N10 billion, and the description was: payment for 80% contract of the Abia airport. That’s true and incontrovertible! The statement and report are there, and will soon be published. I can assure you that it was KPMG that did that forensic audit report.

“On the 13th of October, almost three weeks after, a letter was written by the then Governor (Ikpeazu), to the State House of Assembly requesting for approval of N10 billion for the construction of Abia airport. On the 14th of October, one day after, a letter was written to the then Governor by the House of Assembly, giving him approval for the N10 billion that he requested for the airport. So, clearly, something went wrong. An ISPO was raised in between these dates.

“ So, our engagements with the contractor that received the money gave an impression that the company was deceived. The Managing Director of the company said that he told them that he had never built an airport before; that it’s not his his area of competence, neither did he apply to them to construct an airport.

“So the people denying, the question for them is: how come money moved into an account of somebody who has said he neither sent a bid for an airport nor has he the competence to construct an airport. Of course, he will respond to security agencies.

“But according to him, the then government asked him to move the monies elsewhere. He showed us letters from the then Government to move the money in different tranches to 32 companies, and that he did that on the instruction of the former Government.

“So, like I said, the rest of the work will be done by security agencies. But what is important to our Government is: either that somebody is showing us the airport or somebody is returning our money. That’s what is important to us. We are not interested in the fireworks and all the abuse. We are not even interested in anybody going to jail except if they are telling us that somebody whose money is missing should not look for it. Where I come from, if your property is missing you have to look for it. So, we are looking for our money or in the alternative, our airport!”.

Earlier, Ikpeazu had through his ally and former Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, denied any wrongdoing in the airport project.

He claimed that the N10 billion payment for the project was rather deployed to road infrastructure on the request of traditional rulers.

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