Rochas Okorocha, governor of Imo, says he is ready for probe over the statues he erected in honour of South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
On Sunday, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) called for the probe of Okorocha over the statues which he “may have spent over N1billion of public funds to build”.
The statues sparked outrage from Nigerians who saw it as unnecessary.
But in a statement on Tuesday, Sam Onwuemeodo, chief press secretary to the governor, said SERAP should have stopped at its call for a probe and not “pass judgements”.
Onwuemeodo said by passing judgements, SERAP jeopardised “what should have been their innocent call for probe”.
He also said the state was not owing workers’ salaries.
“First, we want to solemnly subscribe to SERAP’s call for probe. We welcome the call. Our only concern is that SERAP contradicted itself by also passing judgements,” the statement read.
“It would have stopped at the call for probe to show they meant well. But they went ahead to pass judgements and thereby jeopardising what should have been their innocent call for probe.
“SERAP also said the statues might have cost N1 billion. Then, how would SERAP address the issue of cost again if at the end of the probes, the amount is either far higher or far below what they quoted?
“Again, what if at the end of the probe, it is discovered that the statues were not funded from government’s purse, when SERAP had already talked about ‘apparent misuse of public resources’.
“Our concern too is that people deliberately tell unfounded lies. A week ago, all the newspapers had reports on states owing salaries and the chairman of the Imo State branch of NLC, Comrade Austin Chilakpa said the ‘state government is up to date in the payment of workers’ salary’ (see Nation newspaper, Sunday November 5, 2017, pg13).
“In other words, the state does not owe workers including teachers. On the issue of pension, the government cleared all the arrears in December 2016 and has begun to pay monthly. These pieces of information have been there in public domain.”