Sworn in on May 29, 2007, as the 3rd executive Governor of Abia State, Theodore Orji after exhausting his executive immunity, now have mountain pile of allegations to answer to despite being a member of the hallowed chambers of the Senate dubbed a retirement plan for Ex-Governors by many Nigerians as several Anti-graft agencies are already on his neck.
Documents in SecretReporters possession reveal that during T.A Orji’s first tenure as governor, there were petitions to the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to investigate him for money laundering allegations brought against him. ICPC detained the then Accountant-General of Abia State, Mrs Bridget Onyema, for two days before granting her administrative bail since her principal could not be prosecuted as he enjoyed executive immunity.
The arrest was in connection with several petitions sent to the commission to investigate the whereabouts of about N1.9632Billion allegedly transferred under the guise of travel estacodes to the governor, his deputy, their wives and families, as well as 23 other persons who were part of the governor’s entourage to the World Igbo Congress which held from August 28 to September 2 in 2008 at the Hyatt Regency Two City Hotel in Tampa Bay, Florida, the United States.
Ex-Governor Ikedi Ohakim of Imo state was also in attendance as a special guest among other undistinguished guests in the event which was largely criticized by many Nigerians, especially those from Igbo extraction and termed as a “Reckless Jamboree”.
Holding the record as the first governorship candidate to be elected while in detention, Orji is also alleged to have embezzled Abia State’s allocation from the Ecological Funds disbursed by the federal government to assist states in tackling environment-related challenges up to the tune of N7.6billion from a total of N233 billion received by the state from the Federation Account between January 2011 to March 2015.
It will be recalled that it was for a similar offence that the former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment in June 2019 with the sentence later reduced by the Court of Appeal to 10 years.
With the laundered money running into billions, Orji we further learned allegedly acquired properties in various parts of the country which include a high profile property in Ikoyi, Lagos acquired at the sum of N1.8 billion. Another property at No. I Azikwe Road Umuahia, opposite AP Filling Station originally sold at N25 million was also alleged to be bought with public funds by the Ex-Governor at the sum of N100 million from Saclux
The Ex-Governor’s sons were not left out as one allegedly acquired the former Empire Hotel opposite BCA along BCA Road at N10 billion, with a mall along Amuzukwu gulping about N3.5Billion allegedly under the name of his second son.
With little to differentiate between Theodore Ahamefule Orji and his predecessor in terms of allegations on embezzlement of public funds which has seen the latter now serving a jail term, many Nigerians especially Abians now have their finger crossed hoping that justice will take its course as trials are on-going over the case.