How I squandered N38.8b security votes in eight years – Senator Orji

How I squandered N38.8b security votes in eight years – Senator Orji

A former Governor of Abia State, Senator Theodore Orji has furnished the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with details of how he spent

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A former Governor of Abia State, Senator Theodore Orji has furnished the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with details of how he spent his N38.8billion security votes during his eight years in office, TheNation is reporting.

Orji who was in charge of the state between 2007 and 2015 is being investigated by the anti-graft commission for corruption. He said he collected N38.8billion as security votes during the period and not N48billion as alleged by the EFCC.

Orji who is currently representing Abia Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly said he shared much of the N38billion with members of the state House of Assembly, his security informants and traditional rulers. He claimed to have also given part of the money to military units,the police,the  Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC)  and security agencies as what he called  statutory  allocations.

The former governor also said he gave successive members of the State House of Assembly N5.760billion, at N60million per month, in the eight years, paid N75million monthly to security informants in 15 of the 17 local government areas of the state within the same period. The yet-to-be identified informants allegedly pocketed a total of N7.200billion between 2007 and 2015. Some of the security agencies, according to him, received N2million per month.

However, he told the interrogators that he does not have a comprehensive list of all the beneficiaries of the largesse because the Government House staff who used to disburse the cash is no more. He gave the man’s name simply as Felix. Orji said he did not ask for the list from Felix at the expiration of his tenure as governor. He only issued directives to Felix on how to share the security votes. He also said he never collected cash either from the Director of Finance or the Cashier in Government House.

The EFCC insists that Orji collected N48billion in eight years. It has retrieved five huge bags of documents from the relevant desks in Abia State on the ex-governor’s financial transactions. Based on Orji’s confessions, the EFCC is expected to arraign him  in court soon

Orji said he received N370million monthly as security votes in 2007 and N410million monthly from 2008 to 2015. He said the first Speaker in 2007 and the last Speaker in his second term confirmed the receipt of N60million monthly from his security votes. He said the Majority Leader also attested to the receipt of the monthly cash although he claimed he did not know “how they shared the money.”

He could not explain what the monthly cash to the lawmakers was meant for or remember the exact amount he was giving the traditional rulers monthly. Orji admitted that all disbursements were based on his directives. He was quoted as saying “Felix comes to show me how disbursement is made. After disbursement, Felix keeps the list for safety. As I was leaving the Government House, I didn’t ask him for the list.”

He claimed that he never personally collected any cash from the votes whether from the Director of Finance or Government House cashier.

The former governor has been under investigation since November 22, 2018 following a petition from a group, Fight Corruption: Save Nigeria Group. In the  March 17, 2017 petition, the group alleged  that Orji received and diverted various sums of monies that accrued to Abia State while in office.

The breakdown of the amounts allegedly received by him are as follows:

  • N383 billion revenue from federation accounts
  • N55 billion Excess Crude Revenue
  • N2.3 billion Sure – P
  • N1.8 billion Ecological funds
  • N10.5 billion loan from First Bank of Nigeria through the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Local Government Affairs.
  • N4 billion Loan from Diamond Bank
  • N12 billion Paris Club refund
  • N2 billion Agricultural loan for farmers
  • N55 billion ASOPADEC.