…Frowns Over Absence of Retired Perm Sec
By Okey Alozie
The Imo State Judicial panel of Inquiry has as part of its function to ascertain contracts awarded during the Rochas Okorocha administration in the state visited locations of some of the multi million naira projects.
Trumpeta recalls that part of what Governor Hope Uzodinma allowed to operate after his immediate predecessor, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha was removed from office remains the Justice Benjamin Iheaka led probe panel on contracts.
After several weeks of hearing from witnesses with some key figures absent, the panel members moved to see the Tunnels at Porthacourt Road Owerri as well the non- existent third one at Assumpta Road in the heart of the town.
Trumpeta correspondent who monitored the movements disclosed that at the tunnels, engineers and teams from the works ministry gave unpleasant inputs.
The probe panel received same report at the Somto Hospital premises at Old Ekeonunwa market site as well as the Mother and Child Hospital at the Old New Market location.
Other places visited were the Cargo Airport project site at Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport and the Inland Bridges.
Against all expectations that Mrs Lilian Asuzu, who was in charge of local government affairs would appear before the Imo State Judicial Probe Panel on contract awards as witness, the former Permanent Secretary failed to appear again making it the fourth time she is turning down the invitation of the probe panel.
It could be recalled that on a number of occasions since the panel was set up, the former Perm Sec (Lilian Asuzu) was invited by the Justice Benjamine Iheaka led panel to come and give information on the contracts that took place between 2011 and 2019, a period she was in active service as perm sec of Ministry of Local Government and Perm Sec, Ministry of Finance, Asuzu.
Trumpeta gathered may have travelled abroad and since then has not considered it necessary to do the needful as required by the panel member.
On Monday, when the matter came up again in suit number JUD/CICA/22m/2020.
The counsel to Lilian Asuzu, J Nwankwo announced her absence from court again and this made the panel members to raise eye brows.
The panel reminded the lawyer that he was to hold television discussion with his client, Mrs Asuzu on the issue but the woman still complain that the lockdown order had made not to get the required information from her former office, adding that most of those she worked have retired from office as the documents will now be difficult for her to get since she is still in United Kingdom.
One of the panel members questioned if the lawyer actually established his contact with his client and the lawyer (Nwankwo) answered yes my Lord, adding that her client reaction was that she is handicap for now.
At this point the panel chairman frowned and warned Asuzu and her lawyer to be serious.
“The senior officers since the lockdown have been coming to work.
“Our demand is that she should tell us to what extent she is involved in terms of contract that took place in her various offices between 2011 and 2019 and that is all” the chairman insisted.
But Mr Nwankwo disclosed that his client (Asuzu) already has hinted to him that local government handled the contracts. This answer provoked the panel members again and as a result of that they told the lawyer that the time is limited for them.
“Asuzu must shortly appear on Monday or send her report through correspondence specifically on capital projects.
She should say what she know about the contracts and we don’t want to entertain any excuse again. We have given her enough chance for fair hearing” the probe panel submitted. At this juncture the matter was adjourned.
Asuzu lawyer thanked the panel members for being kind to his client and promised that he must surly contact his client to inform her of the decision of the probe panel.