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I’m interested in recovering billions spent on non-existent airport and not jailing my predecessor Ikpeazu — Otti

Governor Alex Otti of Abia state has said that he is interested in recovering the N10 billion allegedly spent on a non-existent airport project by his predecessor Okezie Ikpeazu, and not jailing him.

Speaking at a media parley, Otti said his predecessor allegedly paid the largesse into the account of a company that never bided for the project and later instructed the firm to wire the fund into 32 different accounts in tranches.

He wondered what else the act could be called other than graft, vowing that it was either those who swallowed the fund vomited it or “they show us the airport”.

Otti also said that the entire forensic audit report conducted by a reputable audit firm would be made public.

He said; “The immediate-past Governor’s denial is not unexpected. First of all, when it was announced they went to the media abusing the Government and saying Government lied, that there is nothing like that.

“Then when a media house that got hold of the report published it, of course the next thing was to attempt to explain it away. But that was a report by a very reputable audit firm – KPMG. So, what they said was that they diverted the money into roads. Therefore, it’s up to them to come and show us the roads.

“But what is true is that bank statement on the 25th of September 2020 when COVID-19 was dealing with people, a debit went into the state account for N10 billion, and the description was: payment for 80% of the contract of the Abia airport. That’s true and incontrovertible! The statement and report are there and will soon be published. I can assure you that it was KPMG that did that forensic audit report.

“On the 13th of October, almost three weeks after, a letter was written by the then Governor (Ikpeazu), to the State House of Assembly requesting for approval of N10 billion for the construction of Abia airport. On the 14th of October, one day after, a letter was written to the then Governor by the House of Assembly, giving him approval for the N10 billion that he requested for the airport. So, clearly, something went wrong. An ISPO was raised in between these dates.

“So, our engagements with the contractor that received the money gave an impression that the company was deceived. The Managing Director of the company said that he told them that he had never built an airport before; that it’s not his his area of competence, neither did he apply to them to construct an airport.

“So the people denying, the question for them is: how come money moved into an account of somebody who has said he neither sent a bid for an airport nor has he the competence to construct an airport. Of course, he will respond to security agencies.

“But according to him, the then government asked him to move the monies elsewhere. He showed us letters from the then Government to move the money in different tranches to 32 companies, and that he did that on the instruction of the former Government.

“So, like I said, the rest of the work will be done by security agencies. But what is important to our Government is: either that somebody is showing us the airport or somebody is returning our money. That’s what is important to us. We are not interested in the fireworks and all the abuse. We are not even interested in anybody going to jail except if they are telling us that somebody whose money is missing should not look for it. Where I come from, if your property is missing you have to look for it. So, we are looking for our money or in the alternative, our airport!”.

 

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