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No doubt, the economic condition of Imo State dominated the political discourse in the state during the political campaigns. From one campaign rally to the other, even during town hall meetings, the issue reverberated across the state. There were claims that the state was indebted to the tune of over N350bn, but the state government under Governor Rochas Okorocha would not take it.

No doubt, the economic condition of Imo State dominated the political discourse in the state during the political campaigns. From one campaign rally to the other, even during town hall meetings, the issue reverberated across the state. There were claims that the state was indebted to the tune of over N350bn, but the state government under Governor Rochas Okorocha would not take it.


The Governor had stated categorically that his government had not borrowed money from the commercial banks and was, therefore, not indebted to any bank. He claimed that his critics were jealous of his numerous achievements, saying that they were embarrassed how he managed to raise money for his projects. The 2019 political season was not the first time the issue of the state's indebtedness was raised. In 2013, the issue that the state government was heavily indebted dominated the political discourse. This forced the government to issue a press release on the 10th of January, 2013, saying: “The attention of the government of Imo State has been drawn to the report of the detention of the Commissioner for Finance, Deacon Chike Okafor and the Accountant General of the state, Mr. George Eche by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The report also alleged that both government officials were arrested for obtaining a 40 Billion Naira loan from Zenith Bank on behalf of the state government. The allegation in its entirety is false, unfounded and another campaign of calumny designed to divert attention from the probe of the former PDP administration in the state. We make bold to state categorically that the government of Imo state under His Excellency, Owelle Rochas Okorocha never obtained 40Billion Naira loan nor misappropriated the state funds as alleged”. Also, in a report on Vanguard newspaper of March 15, 2017, the Okorocha government insisted that it had not borrowed money from any bank. In the report captioned: “My govt. has not borrowed a dime from any bank — Okorocha”, the newspaper reported that “Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has said that his government has not borrowed from any bank, stating that opponents of his government have been talking about his borrowing from banks because of the numerous projects his administration has executed”.
In a report by www.punchng.com on March 18, 2019, captioned: “My govt. has not borrowed a dime from any bank – Okorocha” and subsequent press statement by Sam Onwuemeodo, the governor's Chief Press Secretary, Okorocha denied that his government had not borrowed money from any bank. Reporting a media meeting with the Governor, the medium wrote: “While briefing journalists at his private residence in Owerri, the Governor said: 'My opponents have been imagining that I have borrowed money to do all that my administration has achieved in five years. The truth of the matter is that this government has not borrowed any money. For posterity reasons, this government is not owing any bank or person any amount except for the bailout fund that N100 million is being deducted from the source monthly. Any subsequent government that comes and says that Rochas borrowed is a criminal one'”.
However, reports have it that the Okorocha led government has allegedly borrowed over N60bn from Zenith Bank alone. According to the bank statements of account and loan agreement documents which were tendered before the High Court of Imo State in suit number HOW/545/2017 and HOW/28M/2019 between Uche Njoku  (Judgment Creditor/Applicant) and the Attorney general of Imo State (Judgment), Director of Public Prosecution (Debtors/Respondents) and Zenith Bank PLC (2nd Garnishee/Applicant) in an “Affidavit to show cause of the 2nd garnishee”, which were obtained in Owerri, the claim that the state government under Okorocha has not borrowed money from the banks and thus not indebted to any bank might not be true. 
Referring to the statement of loan account, the deponent, UcheNjoku, said in paragraph 7 of his affidavit that the state government is “heavily indebted to the 2nd garnishee (Zenith bank PLC) to the tune of N19, 768,342,576.57 (Nineteen Billion, Seven Hundred and and Sixty-Eight Million, Three Hundred and Forty-Two Thousand, Five Hundred and Seventy-Six Naira, Eighty-Seven Kobo)”. The affidavit also reveals that on September 3, 2015, Zenith Bank PLC had offered the Imo State government a credit facility to the tune of N10bn (Ten Billion Naira).
According to the letter of Offer Of Credit Facility addressed to the Governor through the state Ministry of Finance, the Bank said: “We are pleased to advise that the management of Zenith Bank PLC has approved a credit facility for your state as requested under the following terms and conditions”.
According to the letter which was signed by the Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, the Accountant General, Stella Udogwu and the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, Osigwelem Charles, on November 11, 2015, the credit facility will be “Excess Crude Account Backed Loan”, with a tenor of 120 months or 10 years, and the purpose is “To finance the recurrent expenditure and infrastructural projects in Imo State” at 9% interest rate.”
The Bank, according to the document is to take “One hundred and twenty (120) equal and consecutive monthly repayment of N126,675,773.75 covering principal and interest to be deducted at source as a first line charge by the CBN against Imo State government's monthly Statutory Allocation (FAAC) Account”.
The affidavit also shows that the state government on 1/9/2015 had got a credit facility of N20, 214, 950,000.00 (Twenty Billion, Two Hundred and Fourteen Million, Nine Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira). “The offer of N20, 214, 950,000.00 (Twenty Billion, Two Hundred and Fourteen Million, Nine Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira) Term Loan under the CBN Salary Arrears Bailout Scheme, together with all the terms and conditions has been read and is hereby accepted on behalf of Imo State Government”, read the document signed by the Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, the Accountant General, Stella Udogwu and the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, Osigwelem Charles, dated 1/9/2015.    
The affidavit also shows that the state government in a letter signed by the duo of Accountant General, Stella Udogwu and the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, Osigwelem Charles on 26/1/2016 and 01/03/2016 respectively, accepted the offer of N10bn credit facility from the Bank on behalf of the state government. The loan is backed by the Excess Crude Account and has a tenor of 240 months or 20 years.

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