It gives me great pleasure to have you here today for the inauguration of this judicial panel of inquiry into the recovery of public assets. Ordinarily, the desire of this administration would have been to focus on the business of governance and the delivering of the dividend of democracy, without resorting to any form of inquiry into past deeds. Unfortunately, since our assumption of office, about a month ago, we have been inundated with complaints of unimaginable and large-scale malfeasance by very highly placed members of the past government and their patrons. We have also experienced unbridled looting and misuse of government properties and resources. Besides we have been experiencing difficulties in accessing government properties, which would usually be available to continue with the business of governance. As at now, so many MDAs find it very difficult to perform their day to day duties. Even public schools were not spared as part of their lands have been converted to private use.
Let me reveal that this administration experienced a very hostile handover situation which made it very difficult for us to hit the ground running on the 29th of May, as we had anticipated. We therefore assumed office blindly and had to start practically from below ground zero. We are now discovering that the reason for the lack of cooperation might have arisen from widespread mischief by some of those who were given custody of our collective assets and welfare.
It is for the foregoing reasons that we came to the conclusion that it would amount to being insensitive and reckless and encouraging bad behaviour, if our administration did not listen to the yearnings of those who elected us, by looking into their complaints. The government decided therefore to set up this Judicial Panel of Inquiry to ensure the recovery of government funds and properties.
The terms of reference for this judicial panel are as follows:
- To receive and examine complaints and memoranda from individuals and corporate entities on the looting and or conversion of Government Properties, Funds and Related Matters and where necessary make recommendations to the government for remedial measures or any other measures as appropriate.
- Examine and ascertain whether government moveable and immovable assets and funds or part of it have been illegally acquired /occupied/converted to private use and identify the persons responsible and further make recommendations for recovery and appropriate sanctions.
- Ascertain the extent of allocation and revocation of land in Abia State from May 2015 – May 2023 and determine the propriety of such allocation and revocation.
- Review the award and execution of contracts from May 2015 to May 2023 and ascertain if they were in conformity with extant laws.
- To investigate any other matter incidental or related to the foregoing terms of reference and make recommendations to the government based on their findings.
As you set upon your duties, we expect an expeditious response from you. Do not hesitate to let us know what further resources and support you may require for the successful execution of this onerous but important task before you.
May I appeal to the general public to support the panel with any information at their disposal that will help in the recovery of our looted commonwealth.
All of you have come with excellent recommendations and your antecedents confirm that you will successfully execute this great task for our dear state. I expect you to live up to the high expectations of our people as you contribute to the huge task of rebuilding our state for the benefit of all well-meaning Abia citizens and residents.
To those of us who have been opportune to serve today, setting up this panel should be a guide to us that someday when we are no more here, the same standards would be used to judge us. It therefore behoves on us to conduct our selves in such a manner that we won’t be found wanting on that day.
May God bless Abia State.