Okorocha’s N45 Billion loan from Zenith Bank: Are the chickens coming home to roast?

In my previous write-up entitled “The 45 Billion Loan From Zenith Bank: A constructional legal quagmire” I stated in paragraph 4 of the second page that “Collusio, a legal ground used by the courts to invalidate a contract agreement could be argued against Zenith Bank in this case. Zenith Bank was aware that the administration of Okorocha dissolved elected local councils in the state. Zenith Bank was also aware that the case of the dissolution of elected Imo local council was in court and was yet to be devoiced at the time she entered into this agreement. The 27 local government areas in Imo State could therefore argue collusion against Zenith Bank.

They could argue that Zenith Bank colluded with the administration of Owelle Rochas Okorocha to financially burden the Imo local governments and ad such the loan agreement should not be enforced against the various local councils of Imo State’’

The Zenith Bank illegal N45 billion Loan was published the same date with the write-up entitled “Mortgaging the future of Imo children” which also dealt with loans already taken and requested in the 2013 budget presented by His Excellency Ethelbert Anayo Okorocha.

The reaction of the Okorocha’s administration to these publications was to accuse me of having embezzled N50 million from project funds of the information ministry. There were also attacks from commentators whom I have aptly dubbed internet militants of the Okorocha’s administration.

I did not even attempt to defend myself because I knew that time will vindicate every of my write-ups. I have made so many enemies in defence of Imo and her people in my write-up. But I would rather be considered an enemy of this administration than an enemy of the Imo people, because as the saying attributed to nineteenth Century British MP Edmund Burke goes evil thrives when good men do nothing’’

I had actually considered suing the Commissioner for Information my brother, Chinedu Offor, in order for him to come to court and proof that I even superintended over any project, what more, embezzling funds of the project. But I decided against it for now because it will be purely diversionary and would play into the hands of the administration because that is exactly what they wanted to accomplish. I maintained my focus on the illegalities of this administration.

I became the Imo State Commissioner for Information in May of 2010 and was resigned at the end of November the same year. During this period, not one single project was done in the Information Ministry to make available N50 million. The only thing done during my stewardship in the Information Ministry was the purchase of a five hundred KVA Generator for Imo Broadcasting Corporation. The price for the Generator was N12.5 million and I was not even involved with the procurement, although, I fought for the approval at the executive council.

Everything I have said can be easily verified because the records are there. But the attack on my reputation by my brother, Chinedu Offor, I will take up in due time, through the appropriate channels.

His Excellency, Governor Rochas Okorocha makes it a point to claim in any public address that his government has not taken a penny Loan from any bank. Consequently most commentators on Facebook find it difficult to conceptualize their Governor openly misstating facts, such as obtaining loan, in a public address. But the arrest of the Commissioner for Finance and the Accountant General of Imo State by EFCC and Zenith Bank’s official may have finally vindicated me.

In my article of the Zenith Loan issue, I had argued collusion, a contractual legal affirmative defense without exploring the criminal aspect of the deal. Collusion in contract is really criminal conspiracy in criminal law. Maybe this was the angle from which EFCC viewed the deal warranting the arrest of these individuals.

Nevertheless, whether the criminal angle is eventually proven or not, one thing is clear, the Governor of Imo State can no longer claim and be believed, that he had not taken a penny loan from any bank. At last count, Imo State Government in the past 18 – 19 months has taken a total of N128 billion in loans from various banks. Yet she is still looking for another N81 billion in loan to finance part of the 2013 budget.

After the budget presentation in early December, the Imo State legislature made it known to the Okorocha’s administration that the budget will not be passed except they (the legislators) are paid all their outstanding allowances before the Christmas holidays. To appease the legislators, Okorocha’s administration agreed to obtain a loan of about N5 billion to offset the allowances and other Christmas government expenditure but the three banks approached for this loan all refused claiming that the State is now over burdened with loans. This is alleged to be the reason for abandonment of the traditional sharing of rice to civil servants, royal fathers and local government area less privileged during the 2012 Christmas.

The year 2013 may be the calendar year that Imo people collectively stood up and say enough is enough, and by then it may be too late for some reasons.

First, United States our primary customer for oil is estimated to import 23% less oil this year because she is projected to produce 8 billion barrels of crude this year. This will inevitably affect the price of crude in the world market.

What this means to Nigeria wholly reliant on oil revenue and Imo State, is simply the bumper allocation enjoyed by States in the last 19 months will start to fizzle out. Without the bumper allocation accruing to the State and local government(s), Imo State and her local government may not be able to service these imposing loan debt burden. Meaning that Government may have to retrench workers in order to stay afloat.

The symptoms of this financial apocalypse have already started rearing its ugly head. Imo workforce at obscure boards, bureaus and commissions has already started rearing its ugly head. It is alleged that workers of the water board has not been paid September salary as I write, while workers of Imo State University Teaching Hospital, only received half of October salary during the Christmas holidays.

Imo State is in a big financial mess. It is incumbent upon all good people of Imo to verify the content of this write-up independently and device a way to safe our beloved star. I am just one man and I am doing my bit to keep all of us informed.

Whether you agree with my opinion should not be the issue, check my facts and if you find it accurate after independent verification, you should try and device a way to help Imo and her people.

Thank you all and Happy New Year to my Good Imolites.

IMO IS IN THE HANDS OF GOD.

BY
DR. KELECHI C. OKPALAEKE

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