N10BN ABIA AIRPORT FUND: Govt releases KPMG report as persons indicted get EFCC invitation

Alex Otti, Abia


To further prove its claims against the immediate former governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu over allegations of corrupt practices , the state government has officially made public the 360 page document, a situation which has created panic following invitations from the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, to those indicted by the report.

Recall that Governor Alex Otti had revealed how his administration engaged a reputable audit firm to look into the financial dealings of the state government under the administration of former governor, Dr. Ikpeazu, a move which led to the discovery of the alleged diversion of N10bn meant for the construction of an airport.

Following these revelations, former governor Okezie Ikpeazu, through his aide, Onyebuchi Ememanka challenged his successor to make public the forensic report.

Announcing the release of the 360-page report ,the State Commissioner of Information, Prince Okey Kanu, said it had become necessary for members of the public to peep into the document and keep themselves abreast of facts of what truly transpired instead of getting carried away by the propaganda of those who felt exposed by the report.

“So, we are going to release the report. We want people to read it and interpret it. The report is ready in its content,” he declared.

Commenting on the matter, Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr Ferdinand Ekeoma, said that some of those indicted by the report were already guests of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC.

“The EFCC has started inviting those indicted by KPMG report. We are talking of N62 billion and not N10bnpaid out in a COVID-19 year for building a non-existent airport!

” You made transactions even before getting approval for the payments? Instead of being ashamed for doing a despicable thing that they did, they are on the media shamelessly mounting propaganda.

“The audit is not directed at anybody, however, the actors have the opportunity to defend themselves.”

On why the Governor decided to commission an audit firm to audit the finances of the state under the watch of the former Governor when a probe panel was already set up to investigate the past administration, Ekeoma said the decision was in order.

He explained that there was nothing wrong with engaging a reputable audit firm with track record of competence, integrity and experience to professionally audit the state accounts to eliminate unnecessary doubts.

Ekeoma challenged those who felt exposed by the shocking revelations in the report to rather go to the EFCC with their facts and clear their names instead of resorting to media war to confuse the gullible with fabricated documents.

A peep into the document compiled by a renowned global audit firm, Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler, KPMG, shows various financial transactions and alleged infractions by the immediate-past administration in the state.

It also contains details of how the administration authorised the release of N10 billion from the state coffers for the purpose of building Abia Airport, and later instructed the contractor to wire the fund into 32 different accounts.

However, in a sharp reaction to the revealed financial misappropriation , the main opposition Party in the State, PDP, had expressed deep concern and disappointment over the use of language by Alex Otti to drag the former PDP administration of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu to the mud, and confuse the good people of Abia State, especially when such motives are purely political, unwarranted and totally unnecessary.

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According to a statement signed by the PDP’s acting Publicity Secretary, Elder Abraham Amah, the State has been trending for the wrong reasons in the last three weeks, when Alex Otti, in the far away United States, and claimed that a forensic audit conducted by KPMG indicted the former administration of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu and his government for paying N10b for a non-existent airport.

“After he was pressured by citizens to make public the forensic audit report, Alex Otti a few hours ago, released a document by KPMG which it titled a Provisions of Financial Process Review for Abia State Government and KPMG stated clearly in its introductory notes that the said document is not an audit of Abia financial records but a mere financial process review and subsequently issued caveats absolving it of any opinions in the said report because it did not render any”.

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