From Steve Oko, Umuahia
A regional pressure group known as South East Coalition for Good Governance, SECGG, has described the fraud allegation against former Governor of Abia State, Senator Theodore Orji, and his son cum Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chinedum Orji as an attempt to whittle down their political influence ahead of 2023.
The group in a press release jointly signed by its President , Josiah Madunagu ; and Secretary, Madumere Alexander, argued that the decision of those behind the petition to resort to media trial of the accused instead of allowing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to investigate and charge them to court if found culpable was “a clear pointer to their ulterior motive”.
SECGG further argued that in as much as it would not hold brief for the accused, due process according to extant laws should be followed in handling fraud allegations instead of “resorting to smear campaign against the Abia First family with an intention to de-market, distract and diminish their popularity ahead of 2023”.
It said the sudden media celebration of a petition which had been pending since 2017 was suggestive that “some elements who see Orji and his family as political threat are behind this obviously for some undue political advantage”.
SECGG said it was obvious that power mongers afraid of the Orjis because of their belief that power should return to Abia North in 2023 based on the Abia Charter of Equity were behind the travails of the ex-Governor.
The group which decried “pull -him -down syndrome” among the Igbo political elite, advised those against “the media trial” of the senator representing Abia Central and his son to retrace their steps and allow EFCC to do its job and prosecute the accused if found guilty.
“If the petitioners had submitted their jaundiced piece to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and allowed the anti corruption agency to do its investigations and come out with their findings, the South East coalition for Good Governance would not have intervened.
“But we are miffed to note that this was not the case as the petitioners and their paymasters went on a media trial, to ingloriously and unabashedly destroy the good family name garnered over 35 years in the civil service and over 20 years of service to the people and still counting.”
The group expressed doubt over the veracity of the claims in the petition contending that some remarkable achievements posted by the former governor while in office would not have been possible if he had engaged “in such reckless looting” as being portrayed in the petition.
“To say that the administration of Sen. Orji as governor of Abia State was undermined by financial heist is to say the least most uncharitable and unforgivable.
“Where shall we commence? Is it the construction and equipping of the ultra-modern International Conference Center reputed to be of international standards which has hosted top government and non-government activities?
“What about the ultramodern secretariat complex modelled after international standards? Is it the Abia State Diagnostics Hospital? The Children Hospital at Amachara General Hospital?
“Do we talk about the Asopadec structure, the Timber market? Or the construction of the electric power station at Ohiya which made it possible for Umuahia and it’s environs to begin to have steady power supply thereby giving rise to so many artisans and other ancillary products?
“Is it possible to forget in a hurry that while so many States in Nigeria were insolvent, Abia was one of the four adjudged to be healthy, or that at a time when borrowing from the Stock market was novel, Sen. Orji was among the very few that did not borrow, or that while some of his colleagues in office were busy globetrotting, he ensured that his visits outside Nigeria was for the good of Abians.”
The group further noted that while the former governor ” may not be a saint ” it would be unfair to portray him as a criminal when no court of competent jurisdiction had done so.
“We say this without the slightest equivocation that while we do not claim that he is a saint, we make bold to say that if those before him had made efforts to leave their footprints on the sands of time, Nigeria won’t be where she is today.
“Igbos must stop this mentality of destroying their first eleven, a class to which Sen. Theodore Orji equitably falls into because the Chinese proverb says “do not spit into the well from which you have drunk water because you shall surely thirst again”.