PRESS STATEMENT BY IKEDI OHAKIM
MY LIFE IS IN DANGER
Following some recent developments around my person and the avalanche of misinformation and deliberate lies being peddled about me, I am constrained to issue this statement, first to douse anxiety of every well-meaning fellow who has shown concern and second, to alert members of the Nigerian public to a clear danger to my life.
On June 1, 2015, I travelled out of the country by LH 595 operated by Lufthansa with seat number 04K to honour a medical appointment and also attend my daughter's graduation at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. On June 02, 2015, a newspaper posted a headline that I had been apprehended and taken to custody by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for fraud and misappropriation of public funds.
On inquiry, I discovered that the story was taken to the newspaper in question by an aide of a top politician in my state, Imo. Instructively, the story was carried by only the newspaper in question. A few days later, the same aide of the supposedly top politician took another fake news to some media houses that I sneaked abroad to dispose of my properties because of bankruptcy.
THE PETITION AGAINST ME
What is playing out began with a petition against me to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by the same desperate politician in my state. The petition was written by a group he fabricated that goes by the name, Alliance For Good Governance. Those who are conversant with the politics of Imo state would recall that it was this same group that constituted itself into a vicious gang-up against my administration. It was this group, the Alliance For Good Governance, that sold the lie that I molested a Catholic Priest in Imo state.
It was the same group that carried out the failed public demonstration against me in front of the EFCC Headquarters in Abuja. It was the same group, led by this same politician, that was used by those who were bent on denying me my victory at the April 26, 2011 governorship election, to kidnap an INEC returning officer, one Mr. Ngozi Nwoko, and took him to Bolingo Hotel, Onitsha, Anambra state, where he was locked up, thus preventing him from turning in the results from Ohaji-Egbema local government area which put me in a clear lead. The kidnap of Mr. Nwoko was the first script that led to the so-called supplementary election of May 6, 2011 during which the final script was acted out.
One of the issues raised in the petition was the same carried in similar petitions shortly after I left office four years ago. For example, the petitioners demanded, among other things, that I should be investigated for misappropriating the proceeds from the N18.5billion draw-down from the Imo N40 billion Development Bond which my administration issued in 2010.
Faced with the severe financial crunch of 2008 – 2010, my administration mustered the discipline and secured a N40b Development Bond in 2010 with a first tranche draw-down of N18.5b. Before we left office, we serviced our obligation to investors for the first tranche of the bond to the tune of N10.1b (principal + interest) and we left behind the sum of N13.3 billion from it, being part of the total of N26.6 billion we handed over to the succeeding administration. Up till this moment, the administration that took over from mine has not denied that I left behind N26.6 billion including the N13.3 billion from the Bond proceeds. And on this score, I challenge anybody, whether in government or outside government, to controvert this assertion.
Even so, let me refer to a statement credited to the current administration through its Commissioner for Finance and as reported in the Daily Sun Newspaper of Wednesday January 23, 2013, page 10. The report quoted the Commissioner as saying that "the previous administration of Ikedi Ohakim had secured a bond of N18 billion for capital projects such as roads, water and Oguta Wonder Lake, but when we came to power, we decided to prioritize our projects. Out of the N18 billion that was secured, about N6 billion had been spent and we met only N12.5 billion and we convened a meeting of all stakeholders and got their approval to approach SEC to change the use of the fund".
The report further stated that the Commissioner disclosed that "the balance of the bond proceeds were channeled into critical areas of infrastructure development such as the building of 305 classroom blocks, building of ultra-modern general hospitals in the 27 local government areas of the state and construction of vital roads across the local government areas, informing that works were currently going simultaneously in the various communities". Need I say more?
CLONING MY VOICE
Part of the script is to set me up against the federal authorities especially those manning the security agencies. I have it on good authority that, again, my voice has been cloned in a purported interview I granted to a radio station in which I supposedly lambasted some top federal government officials, including those heading the security agencies. The tape of this fake interview was then handed over to some of these key Federal Government officials.
While I do not necessarily link this development with a recent incident with the EFCC, there can be no doubt that the intention is to put me on a destructive collision course with the federal authorities. But I believe this plot will also fail because those top government functionaries being targeted are not vulnerable to such evil machinations and antics. Still, I feel it is important to alert fellow Nigerians to this practice which is however not new in my state, Imo. Apart from that this method was massively deployed against me prior to the 2011 general election. Another former governor of the state and an elder statesman, also from the state, recently suffered a similar fate in the hands of these criminals using the same trick.
Apart from voice cloning, these elements are also experts in forging signatures. They did it in 2010 when they forged the signatures of a prominent Catholic Archbishop, an Anglican Bishop and other prominent political leaders in the state in a petition against me to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But the plot failed because the latter, upon investigation, discovered that the Archbishop, the Bishop and the leaders in question never wrote any petition. The discovery was also to the bewilderment of those highly regarded top clergymen and leaders. I advise other public figures in the entire country to be on the watch because this habit is capable of spreading.
THE DRAMA OF JUNE 18, 2015
Finally, let me seize this opportunity to make some clarifications over my so called arrest by the EFCC on Thursday June 18 2015. As a law-abiding citizen, I will always make myself available to any investigative agency because I have absolutely nothing to fear. However, let me seize this opportunity to state that it is high time we stopped trying to create disord between vital agencies of government like the EFCC and pubic officers, past or present. The agencies are there to do their jobs. Orchestrating newspaper reports on their legitimate lines of actions gives the erroneous impression that the agencies and their officials are out to witch-hunt. This is unfortunate and, in my view, it is one of the major reasons why there is so much myth about the accountability by public office holders.
On the incident of Thursday, June 18, 2015, I would submit, with the highest sense of responsibility, that the drama was unnecessary. I never evaded invitation by the agency. This can be corroborated by the statement made by the commission's spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, as quoted in the media: "We were expecting a former governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim, today (Wednesday) to come and shed light on some issues in an old case we have been investigating. We are about rounding off the investigation and we need him to clarify some issues but he didn't show up; he may still come today or tomorrow" (see Daily Sun of Wednesday, June 17, 2015; page 13). So, the question is, if the commission knew or realized that I could still "come today or tomorrow", why the drama just the following morning?
In other words, the admission that they were still expecting me "today or tomorrow" negates the impression created by a section of the media that I was avoiding arrest. It means that by the time the spokesman made that statement on Wednesday June 17, 2015, I was not yet a subject for arrest; notwithstanding the fact that I was at the headquarters of the commission the same Wednesday, June 17, 2015 to submit a letter asking for more time in view of my health challenges; and which letter was duly acknowledged.
There is no intention here to pitch my words against that of the commission which, as I noted earlier, is doing its legitimate duties. But I am compelled to make this clarification in order to erase the impression that Ikedi Ohakim was evading "arrest". Let me repeat for the umpteenth time that I have no reason, whatsoever, to evade interrogation by any anti-corruption agency in Nigeria, or anywhere in the world, concerning my tenure as governor of Imo State.
Throughout my tenure as governor, we never hunted political opponents. There was no political assassination, no arson, no official of government disappeared. There was no impeachment of any kind or threat of impeachment. No senatorial zone complained of marginalization. No contract failed. No contractor ran away with the state's funds. There was labour harmony. We never owed salaries as we made payment of salaries a first line charge. In short, there was law and order and Imo worked on one page.
But contrary to the goodwill that existed while I was in office, I have since become an object of attacks and ridicule. Nigerians will recall that on May 15, 2014, directly after I declared interest to re-contest the governorship election of my state, my only house in Owerri was bombed in what was evidently, an attempt to assassinate me. As I write this statement, my portrait is still missing from amongst those of other former governors in a gallery created for that purpose at the Government House, Owerri.
Still, let me state that in spite of the misadventure of some of these elements who see me as their only obstacle to 'greatness', I remain committed to the peace, progress and stability of Imo state in particular and Nigeria in general. I have implicit confidence that the vision, dedication, fear of God and honesty of purpose with which I served my people shall vindicate me.
To God Be The Glory.