SERAP Alleges Rochas Okorocha Statues Cost Over N1B, Calls For His Probe


The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) through its executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, has called on the Code of Conduct Bureau and the ICPC to liaise with the EFCC and look into the money Governor Rochas Okorocha of  Imo state spent on erecting statues in the state.

According to the organisation,  the cost of the project is upwards of 1billion naira Premium Times reports.

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SERAP expressed serious concern that Rochas Okorocha may have spent over N1 billion of public funds to build statues of South African President Jacob Zuma and Liberian President Mrs Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

It said investigation would help to improve public confidence in public authorities, and minimize the risks of bad government by public officials.

“The spending on statues and apparent misuse of public resources may have violated constitutional provisions and international standards on code of conduct for public officers. The initiatives cannot be justified under any circumstances whatsoever, especially at a time when Imo state is unable or unwilling to pay teachers’ salaries and pensioners’ entitlements.”

“Inviting Zuma and Johnson-Sirleaf to attend the opening of his Foundation and then ‘honouring’ them with statues suggests abuse of office and apparent conflict of interest situation, as such acts were undertaken by Governor Okorocha in the exercise of his public functions to presumably promote and advance the commercial and other interests of the Foundation.”

“SERAP believes that rather than serving the common interest of the public, spending over N1 billion possibly of public funds on Zuma and Johnson-Sirleaf in the context of their participation in the opening of the Rochas Okorocha Foundation would seem to put Governor Okorocha in a conflict of interest situation.”

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“SERAP notes that the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) and UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party prohibit conflict of interests and set ethical standards for public officers. Indeed, both the Constitution and the Convention require public officers to abstain from all acts that may compromise the exercise of their public office and functions, or are inconsistent with their entrusted positions.”

“Public officers also must discharge their public duties truthfully and faithfully, abide by the constitutional code of conduct, observe the primacy of public interest, and not allow their personal interest to influence their official conduct.”

“The CCB and ICPC should carry out joint investigation in collaboration with the EFCC of the allegations of conflict of interest, abuse of office and apparent misuse of public funds by Governor Okorocha. SERAP also urges the CCB and ICPC to prosecute Governor Okorocha after leaving office if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence of abuse of public office against him.”

“Conflict of interest represents a situation where the person exercising a public function has a personal interest of patrimonial or commercial nature, which could influence the objective fulfilment of the duties incumbent on public officers under the Constitution and international standards.”

“Conflict of interest arises from a situation in which a public official has a private interest which is such as to influence or appear to influence the impartial and objective nature of his or her official duties in order to promote private interests, which would be contrary to the public interest.”

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Governor Rochas Okorocha shortly after unveiling the statue of the Liberian President in Imo state, at the weekend, explained to  a journalist why he is building statues, he said:  “To immortalize people so our children yet unborn can read a piece of them. History is dying in Africa. We must keep history alive. In the next 100 years to come, most of us will not be here but this will stand for children to read stories and mold their  character. If leaders are not mortalized, there will not be history for children yet unborn.”