Breaking : Abia govt clears air on invitation of finance commissioner , others by EFCC
By Steve Oko
The Abia State Government, Thursday, explained why the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Obinna Oriaku and some staff of the Ministry of Finance were invited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, in a joint press briefing, Thursday with Oriaku, said the invitation was based on a petition by a Commissioner in the State Civil Service Commission, Mr. Guy Okite, alleging financial fraud by some staff of the Ministry of finance.
They said the invitation did not suggest that the Finance Commissioner was involved in any fraud but had to accompany the fingered staff to EFfCC since he is the head of the ministry.
According to them the invitation was good as it would help the state uncover any fraud in its financial administration.
They said it also shows that Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu was running a transparent administration with zero tolerance for corruption, adding that the petitioner who is still in the employ of the state would not be vilified for the petition.
“The thrust of the ongoing investigation is centered around the 2017 annual report of the State audit team with the contentious issue already withdrawn by the same audit unit when presented with relevant facts concerning their observations”, they said.
Oriaku however, admitted that “in the course of the EFCC investigations we discovered some unethical things by some staff of the ministry “.
He noted that fraud might not be completely arradicated in any system but warned that any body found syphoning the state fund would not go unpunished.
Oriaku however exonerated himself from any sharp practices saying he does not earn any salaries from the state government as he is on secondment from First Bank.
He said two staff of the ministry were still being grilled by EFCC while another three would report on Monday for interrogation.
Oriaku who said the state “now’s saves N500 million monthly” courtesy of biometric data capturing of workers since he came on board, warned that any staff involved in salary padding would be made to face the full wrath of the law.
They said the state was willing to collaborate with EFCC in any effort that would help government plug financial leakages.
Full text of press statement later released by the Information Commissioner :
“Re: Invitation to some Staff of Abia State Ministry of Finance by EFCC
“Our attention has been drawn to media reports and speculations about the invitation extended to some staff of Abia State Ministry of Finance by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commision (EFCC) in respect of a petition against them, and we wish to state as follows:
1. That the petition in question was written by a serving staff of Abia State Civil Service Commission, Barr. Guy Chigoziri Okite, who is a Commissioner in the commission.
2. That all the staff invited by the EFCC work in the payroll unit of the state ministry of finance.
3. That the invitation to the State Commissioner for Finance was to shed light on some of the issues raised by the petitioner. The Honourable Commissioner has since returned to his work.
4. That the administration of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has zero tolerance for corruption and has long been adjudged the most transparent in the country. We therefore welcome scrutiny by relevant agencies of the State into our transactions, within the ambit of the law.
5. That the thrust of the ongoing investigation is centered around the 2017 annual report of the State audit team with the contentious issue already withdrawn by the same audit unit when presented with relevant facts concerning their observations.
6. That Governor Ikpeazu expects all employees of the government to carry out their official functions with the highest level of transparency, professionalism and also be prepared to give account to relevant institutions and the people of the state upon demand.
7. That we expect officials of EFCC to conduct their investigation professionally, in line with their constitutional mandate and those found culpable punished according to the law.”
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