says he’s not owing workers despite N7.9bn blockage

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By Chidi Nkwopara & Chinonso Alozie

…as Imo Poly staffers down tools over salaries, others Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State yesterday, said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, did not provide information on how they arrived at the conclusion that he wanted to withdraw money for vote-buying during the election, urging its Chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Magu, to keep fifth columnists at arm’s length. Rochas Okorocha Also yesterday, Okorocha announced the postponement of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to the state to commission some projects. According to Governor Okorocha’s Chief Press Secretary, CPS, Sam Onwuemedo, President Buhari, among other Muslims, were performing the lesser hajj in Saudi Arabia. Speaking on the EFCC probe in Owerri, Okorocha, through the CPS, argued that despite EFCC’s blockage of Imo State funds to the tune of N7.9 billion, he did not owe salaries. He said part of his prayers is that the EFCC should not allow infiltrators into its activities, adding that he understood the chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu never accused him of mismanagement of funds. According to the release, “On Monday, May 20, chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Alhaji Ibrahim Magu was quoted to have told journalists in London that the commission was investigating Governor Rochas Okorocha over the bailout fund. If you can’t confirm Magu, you can’t confirm Emefiele – Activist Adeyanju tells Senate(Opens in a new browser tab) “Also on Friday, May 17, the commission’s zonal head for South-East, Usman Imam held a briefing in Enugu, where he also told the world that the commission was investigating Governor Okorocha. “These press conferences raise a genuine concern and have also added fillip to the governor’s earlier worry that those behind the drama over his Certificate of Return have not gone to sleep but have continued to spread their dragnets or tentacles. “If you ask us, we won’t join issues with the EFCC as an institution and with Alhaji Magu as an individual. Investigating individuals, governments and institutions are part of the commission’s rules of engagement. We only pray that the commission should not allow undue infiltration. “Out of the N8 billion they quoted, they also confirmed that N7.9 billion is what they blocked. Then, what is Owelle’s case? And the governor does not owe salary. “Imam also threw a kite which could not fly when he told his audience that if not for their timely intervention, N5 billion would have allegedly been deployed in vote buying by Okorocha’s administration. “Alhaji Magu is doing a good job as the head of the EFCC but he should keep the fifth columnists at arm’s length. He should not eat with them even with the longest spoon. “With more than one thousand landmark and verifiable projects to his credit, Governor Okorocha must have managed the resources of the state in his time as governor with a high sense of prudence.” …on Buhari’s visit The state government, yesterday had announced the coming of Buhari to the state to commission some of his projects which included the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport. However, a statement on the visit’s postponement yesterday said: “We humbly wish to inform the general public and Imo people in particular that President Muhammadu Buhari has not returned from Saudi Arabia where he is at the moment with other Muslims from all parts of the world on pilgrimage. “Therefore, the scheduled visit of the President to Imo State for the commissioning of some key projects of Governor Rochas Okorocha on Tuesday (yesterday) has been postponed. A new date for the visit will also be made public in due course, once the President comes back from Saudi Arabia.”

Imo Poly In a related development, academic activities in Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo, have been grounded, following an indefinite industrial action declared by lecturers. Apart from the alleged maladministration of the Rector, Rev. Wence Madu, the lecturers said they were doing the battle to secure payment for their salary and promotion arrears. According to the institution’s chairman of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, Dr. Desmond Echeta, issues related to salary and promotion arrears as well as check off dues, are the major reasons for the ASUP action. Already, ASUP has written the school management to inform it of the commencement of the indefinite industrial action. According to the letter by the chairman and secretary, Dr. Echeta and Engr. Victor Ehirim, respectively, Congress totally rejected the government’s pronouncement on the relocation of the institution. The letter read in part: “The teaching and non-teaching staff, students and host community of the polytechnic were not consulted. Congress sympathises with parents, who will be affected by the relocation exercise. “Congress can no longer condone the continued delay in payment of February, March and April 2018 salary arrears and re-affirmed their total commitment to the payment of 80 per cent salary which started from May 2018. “Congress demands immediate financial implementation of 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 promotion and proper placement of staff.” Congress condemns in strong terms, the continued withholding of check-off dues by Imo State Polytechnic management for 23 months and demand the release with immediate effect.” Labour reminded management that workers may consider taking legal action “if urgent steps are not taken to reverse the aforementioned issues.”

Credit: vanguard

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