Richard Ginika Izuora
A Civil Society Organisation, Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption-MIIVOC is considering to sue the Governor of Imo State, Chief Hope Uzodinma over what it described as violation of the Law establishing the Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission-ISOPADEC.
Executive Director of MIIVOC, Dr. Walter Duru disclosed this in a Press Release made available to newsmen in Owerri, Sunday.
According to him, “seven months into the present administration, no Board has been inaugurated for the Oil Commission and everything about its operations is opaque. Seven months into the administration, statutory funds of the Commission, being 40% of the 13% derivation funds, amounting to over Three Billion Naira (N3b) cannot be accounted for. About N600m left in ISOPADEC coffers by the last managers of the Commission has disappeared from the Commission’s account.”
“In spite of the billions, the present administration has concluded plans to slash the salaries and allowances of staff of the Commission, by placing them on the same salary structure with the state civil service. ISOPADEC Staff are also being owed about four months of salary arrears. The total Wage bill of the Commission is less than 10% of the statutory 40% from the 13% derivation funds. Majority of the Commission’s staff are indigenes of the two oil producing Local Government Areas of the State – Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta LGAs.”
“We have it on good authority that the Governor has directed the Head of Service of the State to take over the running of the Oil Commission in administration and process. The government has also enrolled staff of the Commission in the purported automated salary system for state civil servants, slashing their salaries by about 80%. These are obvious infractions to the law establishing the Commission.”
“Having failed in his vexatious bid to smuggle in his native Oru East, being a part of his grand design to expropriate ISOPADEC FAAC allocation, he is now resigned himself to reducing ISOPADEC staff remuneration by 80%; reduce its workforce by more than 50%, while drawing up a shortlist of potential new staff made up of his kinsmen from his native Omuma and surrounding Oru villages to replace the oil landlords who makeup ISOPADEC work force.”
“The oil producing communities have been returned to the old days of darkness. No electricity; no water; no good roads, with poverty building empires on the people, yet, billions meant to cushion the effects of oil exploration are diverted.”
Continuing, Duru argued that ‘similar oil commissions in other parts of the Niger Delta region are not faced with any such fate, warning that the mismanagement of ISOPADEC funds is a recipe to crises in the oil producing areas.
He however threatened to seek legal redress, if what he described as the brazen violation of the ISOPADEC law is not remedied within seven (7) days, even as he called on well-meaning sons of the state to rise to the challenge of condemning the anomaly.
He further disclosed that MIIVOC shall be seeking about Ten Billion (N10b) in exemplary damages from the Imo State Government, among other demands.