By John I. Mgbe
The Imo State Deputy Governor, Chief Jude Agbaso has finally made pertinent clarifications in respect of the conflicting stories in regard to his involvement in a contract scam for which it was being alleged that he would be impeached presently.
Addressing members of the press over the weekend, the Deputy Governor, Sir Jude Agbaso, denied the allegation by the State House of Assembly that he took bribe from a contractor to award him contract. He was vehement in protesting his innocence on the alleged contract scam which involved the fraudulent payment of N458m to a Lebanese company, JPROS Nig Ltd. Sir Jude Agbaso who the State House of Assembly is threatening with impeachment said during the weekend in Imo State that he neither had any encounter with the contractor nor collected any money from any contractor.
The Deputy Governor who was looking pensive and in a melancholy mood said that he knew the reasons for his political travails. He lamented that the crux of the matter was that Governor Okorocha wanted him out of the office on the grounds of reasons that bordered on the politics of 2015.Hear Sir Agbaso: “The truth is that I am a victim of power play between two powerful political figures. I heard that there was an agreement reached with my elder brother, Chief Martin Agbaso, that the governor would be in office for one tenure and give way for him(i.e Martin Agbaso) to contest.
It is possible the agreement is about to be breached and they want to make sure I am out of the office at all costs.” Sir Agbaso denied every allegation of wrong-doing and also challenged the House to confront him with evidence of the bribe allegation.
He debunked the rumour of his resignation and maintained that it was unfounded as he had never contemplated resignation .He said that he was still in his office with all the trappings, accoutrements, and appurtenances of his office. He said that he did not have any reasons to resign because the fact that he was enjoying his job of serving the Imo electorate, he had not committed any breach of the law or got involved in any financial infractions or scams.
He said that he was addressing the Press because in the long run “ I feel it a duty to address formally the good people of Imo State who gave me their mandate a little less than two years ago to be their deputy governor and set the records straight and to let them know that all the allegations of wrong-doing against me that have been the issue for some time are completely false and unfounded. I have kept quiet all along but felt it is time to state my side of the story so that all that people hear about me would not be taken as true”.
“I am not the governor and do not award contracts and there is no way bribe for contract award should be channeled to me. The facts are there to exonerate me of any charges being brought up now”.
“If the House wants to impeach me, it should do it in a tidy way and not trump up vain claims and charges. I know that the House has possibly made up their mind to get me out of the way but the world should know that it is politics and I did no wrong or took any bribe.”
Meanwhile, in a statement issued by Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Chinedu Offor, the Commissioner denied that Agbaso had resigned. The press release said: “The attention of the Imo State Government has been drawn to gross inaccuracies and outright lies by some section of the media about recent events as it concerns the ongoing investigation of corruption levelled against the Deputy Governor, Sir Jude Agbaso by a Lebanese contractor, J-Pros.
“I wish to state that contrary to reports in the media, the deputy governor continues to carry out the responsibilities of his office and in fact, joined Governor Okorocha on inspection of projects around the state on Friday, when speculations were rife that he has been impeached or that his office has been sealed off.
“These deliberate attempts by some paid agents masquerading as media practitioners speak volumes of the level of desperation of some forces to overheat the polity and drag Governor Okorocha into what is essentially an attempt by the IMHA to determine the veracity of an allegation made against a senior government official in line with Governor Okorocha’s agenda of zero tolerance for corruption.
“In fact, at the invitation of Sir Jude, Governor Okorocha has severally postponed his planned trip to wade into the matter with a view of finding out the truth through a process that is fair, lawful and constitutional. It is, therefore, mischievous and unprofessional for some section of the media to accuse Governor Okorocha of being behind the travails of the deputy governor.
It is a known fact that Governor Okorocha lacks the powers to interfere in the constitutional duties of the IMHA and should not be linked to the ongoing investigation. Governor Okorocha’s interest remains to ensure Sir Jude gets the opportunity to prove his innocence. This is consistent with the zero tolerance policy on corruption of the Rescue Mission administration,” Offor said.
When Ebere Uzoukwa was contacted, the Senior Special Assistant (Media) to the governor to comment on the revelations made by the Deputy Governor, Sir Jude Agbaso, he said: “Ok, they are merely trying to rope the governor into the fray. It is an issue between the House and the Deputy Governor. HON Acho Ihim is the Honourable member who is speaking for the Legislature on this issue. Shortly, he will issue a press release on the Deputy Governor’s comments. Once the press release is issued, I will post it to your email box. We in the Government House do not want to join issues with them because the State Governor is not involved in all this”.
The reaction from the State Legislature will be uploaded on this website so that interested readers will be kept abreast with the goings on in Imo State on the contentious and vexatious issue of the impeachment blues on the State Deputy Governor, Sir Jude AGBASO.