From Everest Ezihe, Owerri
Immediate past Deputy Governor of Imo State, Engr. Gerald Irona, says he is ready for probe over any of his actions while in office for 7 months as number two citizen of the State.
The former Deputy Governor made this known while reacting to a recent media allegation by the state leadership of the National Union of Local Government Employees-NULGE, demanding his arrest and prosecution for an alleged gross misappropriation of the funds of Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission – ISOPADEC, while overseeing the activities of the Commission.
Engr. Irona’s position was made known in a statement signed by his Communications Adviser, Dr. Walter Duru and made available to newsmen in Owerri, on Sunday.
According to him “Our attention has been drawn to a sponsored Press Briefing by a faction of the National Union of Local Government Employees-NULGE in Imo State, where they called for the arrest and prosecution of the immediate past Deputy Governor of the State, Engr. Gerald Irona. Shortly after the call, former member of the House of Representatives and Special Adviser to Governor Hope Uzodinma on Oil and Gas, Hon. Goodluck Opiah added his voice.”
“We are not in doubt, as to the sponsors of the blackmail against Engr. Irona. The fact that NULGE, whose members- local government employees in Imo State have not been paid several months of salary arrears refused to say a word in solidarity with their suffering members, some of whom are dying of hunger and different ailments leaves much to be desired.
“It is also shameful that they have not seen anything wrong with the fact that five months into the present administration in the state, the Board of Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission- ISOPADEC is yet to be reconstituted. Six months of the Commission’s statutory allocation, as at today, amounting to billions of Naira cannot be accounted for. Hundreds of millions of Naira left in the Commission’s account with the United Bank for Africa and other commercial banks have developed wings. The One Hundred and Fourteen Million Naira (N114m) counterpart fund paid by Walter smith Petroleum, as part of their commitment to the Awarra Court Area electrification project in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of the state has disappeared from the UBA account, where it was kept.”
He regretted that staff of ISOPADEC are presently being owed about four months arrears of salary and other entitlements. Noting that no one, including Hon. Goodluck Opiah and others that claim to be stakeholders has said a word.