Just none days to the governorship, a team of lawyers under the Enugu State Lawyers Anti-Corruption Network has written a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) calling for an investigation of the governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Enugu State, Hon. Chijioke Edeoga, over his alleged involvement in a N2billion public funds mismanagement.
Edeoga, who was the Commissioner for Local Government Affairs in the first tenure of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi from 2015 to 2019, was petitioned to the EFCC for probe by the lawyers who demanded an investigation into diversion of public funds meant for a magazine project.
The six-page petition released on Friday, signed by Chief Obiora Eze Nwankwo, secretary of the Enugu State Lawyers Anti-corruption Network.
On its official social media handles and website, the magazine is boldly promoted as a “State Magazine, established in 2015 to encourage robust citizen participation in the governance process, to show proper accountability and transparency”.
According to the lawyers, consequently, being state-owned, the 17 local governments funded the magazine through the compulsory release of N1.5 Million on a monthly basis, purportedly to the Ministry of Local Government, then superintended by Edeoga.
This comes to about N25.5million monthly.
However, rather than the promised transparency and accountability, the magazine, unknown to the governor, the local government chairmen, and members of the public, was a grand design to siphon funds, the lawyers added.
For instance, it was gathered that rather than passing through the banking system, the N1.5million was remitted to the Ministry of Local Government Affairs in cash.
The brazen extortion allegedly ran into more than N2billion in 48 months, the lawyers added in the petition, adding that upon Edeoga’s redeployment to the Ministry of Environment at the beginning of Ugwuanyi’s second tenure in 2019, the magazine’s ownership had already been transferred to another firm.
Meanwhile, further findings showed that Edeoga oversaw the management, running and production of the magazine as a private business but under the guise of a government-owned magazine.
This was in contrary to extant laws and Code of Conduct for public servants.
In the petition dated November 8, 2022, the Enugu Lawyers Anti-Corruption Network asked the EFCC to wade in to probe the alleged malfeasance by Edeoga.
“The question now begging for answer is; will Edeoga ever face justice for his barefaced knavery and financial malfeasance involving extortion, diversion of public resources to corruptly enrich himself and the conversion of a government owned publication for his personal political pursuits the law is blind and cannot see but justice can see and see very well. Will the anti0graft agencies such as the EFCC and ICPC set the wheel of justice in motion?
“The EFCC Chairman is urged to give urgent attention to this monstrous corruption perpetuated under Edeoga’s watch and bring those responsible to book” the petition concluded.