Abia State Governor, Alex Otti, has expressed his determination to retrieve all government funds and assets held by individuals accused of corruption in the state. He also assured the public that his administration would take decisive action against more individuals who have been misusing public resources.
Otti made this commitment during a thanksgiving service held at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Umuahia, where he attended the event honoring the Deputy Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly, Hon. Austin Okezie Meregini. He highlighted the changes he has already implemented in the state’s civil service and the dissolution of various boards, emphasizing that these actions are aimed at rebuilding Abia.
Furthermore, Otti vowed that the newly established Panel of Inquiry would play a crucial role in the recovery of stolen public funds and assets, as it will investigate and hold accountable those involved in corruption.
He said: “It is also not uncommon for you to be hearing people wailing and crying; that is expected because, for the past 24 years, some people had put their mouths on the feeding bottle, and since we came, we removed their mouths.
“There may be a few people whose mouths we have not seen, and that is why we have the Panel. We will fish out those people and remove their mouths from the feeding bottle.”
Otti said that public funds and property should be used for the good of the people, not to be cornered by a corrupt few.
“The feeding bottle is for all of us. So anytime that happens, you will hear them screaming, ‘The man is undemocratic; the man wants to spoil the State.’ We have not come to spoil; we have come to rebuild.
“So, if the rebuilding tastes like spoiling to them, we can’t understand, but we cannot sympathize with them,” Otti thundered to the cheering of Church members.
He reassured the people of Abia not to worry about his policies as they are designed for their benefit and well-being.
During his address, Austin Okezie Meregini, the Deputy Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, expressed gratitude to God and the citizens for their support, leading to his victory in the election and subsequent appointment as Deputy Speaker.
It is worth noting that Governor Otti established a Judicial Panel of Inquiry with the mandate to recover government property allegedly misappropriated by individuals who served in previous administrations in the state.
According to a statement issued by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof Kenneth Kalu, Justice Florence Ikwuoma Duruoha-Igwe of the State High Court Umuahia was appointed as the chairperson of the Panel. The SSG also named Prof Ogwo Ekeoma Ogwo, Mazi Ugochukwu Okoroafor, Rev Fr Alex Okonkwo, and Prof Ursula Ngozi Akanwa as additional panel members.
Thus far, the current administration has terminated the employment of several officials from the previous administration, including permanent secretaries.