Imo to find N12.3b missing’ oil money

Imo State has vowed to recover money missing from the State Oil Producing Areas Commission (ISOPADEC).

This followed the report of a forensic audit ordered by Governor Hope Uzodimma.

Commissioner for Information and Strategy Declan Emelumba said everyone indicted by the report would be held accountable.

The audit showed that N12.3 billion could not be accounted for, with no projects to show for the over N10 billion said to have been earmakked for projects.

The audit covered 2007 to May 31, 2020, and was carried out by Corporate Development and Assets Mgt Ltd (CADAM-ANE).

It was discovered that the then accountant-general was sole signatory to the commission’s account.

A breakdown showed that  N647 million was spent between 2007 and May 2019, while N3 billion was spent between June 2019 and January 2020.

Only 44 transactions under the subhead ‘unexplained expenditures and online transfers’ were done in 12 years (2007-2018) and 88 illegal transactions were carried out in less than eight months (June 2019 to January 2020).

The report also showed that the overall expenditure profile of ISOPADEC in the period witnessed was high in seven months than in any single year in 12 years.

In 2008, the commission spent N3.1 billion; N1.7 billion in 2009; N1.4 billion in 2012 and 2013, as well as N1 billion in 2017. The years from 2007 to 2018 were less than a billion naira, but between June 2019 and January 2020, the commission spent N3.3 billion.

The report further said huge funds were paid to contractors without due process in violation of extant laws, and serial online transfers were sent to either unknown or unidentified recipients.

It further said payments to contractors were made without guaranteed APG or certificates earned, and that there was no project history, tender records or evidence of approvals from the board, as well as lack of adherence to protocols on award of contracts above N1 million.

The report listed expenditure for the unaccounted N12.272 billion as N9.611 billion from statutory allocation; miscellaneous inflows of N2.203 billion; N410.721 million deductions and N48.1 million gifts to workers.

It said projects, such as hospitals, schools and roads in Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta, recorded as complete, were abandoned or non-existent.

Former Managing Director of the commission Prince Henry Okafor said although he had not seen the report, discrepancies discovered during the audit were inevitable.

“We did our best while I was in charge of the commission, but don’t forget the managing directors were also appointees of the governors,” he said.

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