Please Allow Me To Leave Office First – Ikpeazu Begs EFCC

Please Allow Me To Leave Office First – Ikpeazu Begs EFCC

The Abia State Government, under the leadership of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, has requested that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, postpone the investigation of all the heads and treasurers of 17 Local Government Councils in the state.

The request is to delay the investigation until after May 29, when the incoming administration of Alex Otti will assume power in the state.

The state’s Attorney-General, Uche Ihediwa, made this appeal in a letter dated May 5, 2023, made available to newsmen.

The appeal followed a directive from the Abia State Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, dated May 4, requesting that the LG heads appear at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja to answer questions regarding the use of public funds during Ikpeazu’s tenure as governor.

According to the letter to the local governments “I am directed to refer to letter No. 3000/EFCC/ABI/HQ/CMU- 1/TB/UE/VOL.2/127 of 18th April, 2023 on the above subject and inform all the 17 Heads of Service and Treasurers of your release to report for an interview through the Head, CMU-1 HQ team 5 floor, EFCC Headquarters, Plot 301/302 Institutions and Research District, Jabi, Abuja on the dates scheduled against your respective local government area. Time is 10:00 hours, unfailingly.”

But in a written communication, the Commissioner of Justice requested an extension of time from the EFCC chairman in order to initiate an investigation into the local government area (LGA) leaders. The reason cited for the extension was related to the transition process and schedule between the outgoing and incoming governments.

The Commissioner urged the Commission to conduct the investigation in June, after the handover from the current governor, Ikpeazu, to the incoming one, Otti.

The letter reads, “The Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs has shown me two invitations to with reference numbers: 1. CR.3000/EFCC/ABJHQ/CMU-1/TB/UE/VOL.2/008 of 4/4/23 2. CR3000/EFCC/ABI/HQ/CMU-1/18/UE/NC2.2/127 of 18/4/23 inviting Heads of Service and Treasurers of 17 Local Government Councils in Abia State. They also showed me their request for an extension of time sent to your office on the 11th day of April, 2023 (copy and proof of dispatch attached).

“The Government of Abia State and the Local Government Councils have met on these invites and graciously request a further extension of the period of coming to your office to any date in the middle of June 2023. This request is occasioned by the fact that we are transiting to a new Government and these officers play a crucial role in the exercise.

“As a matter of fact the in-coming Government and the out-going one have constituted transition committees that interface with each other, That interface involves invitation of these officers you also request in Abuja.

“In the circumstances, we graciously pray you to grant these officers an extension of time to a date in the middle of June 2023. Attached are the letters referred to herein. Accept the assurances of my highest esteem.”

The following LGA council heads were extended an invitation to the anti-graft agency: Aba North/Aba South, Arochukwu/Bende, Tkwuano/Isiala-Ngwa North, Isiala-Ngwa South/Isuikwuato, Obingwa/Ohafia, Csisioma-Ngwa/Ugwunagbo, Ukwa East/Ukwa West, Umuahia North/Umuahia South and Ummueneochi.

Nevertheless, it remains to be seen whether the EFCC will honour the state government’s request to delay the investigation.