Row over Ihedioha, FBI suspect’s relationship

August 28, 2019
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The social media is buzzing with the photo of Imo State Governor Emeka Ihedioha and Chika Augustine Odionyenma, a Nigerian indicted for alleged fraud in the United States by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Odionyenma posed with Ihedioha after the latter appointed him to the Sub-Committee on Logistics for his May 29 Inauguration Planning and Handover Committee.

The appointment letter signed by Ihedioha reads: “Following my successful declaration as Governor-elect of Imo State by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and my subsequent receipt of Certificate of Return …I have duly constituted an Inauguration Planning and Handover Committee with the responsibility of liaising with the existing government to ensure a smooth handover of power to our party on May 29, 2019.

“I will be pleased if you can serve as a member of the Sub-Committee on Logistics. The committees will be inaugurated on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, Rockview Hotel, Owerri by 12 noon.

“I trust you will avail us your expertise and time in carrying out this assignment to support our quest to rebuild Imo.”

Many Nigerians on social media were surprised that an alleged fraudster was given appointment by a government.

Imo Professionals Group, an association of persons from different sectors, has urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate any business link between Ihedioha and Odionyenma, popularly known as ‘’Nwakanwa’’ or ‘’Tony Chika.’

Read Also: US massive wire frauds: EFCC’ll fish out suspects, Magu vows

A statement by its President and Director of Media Relations Julius Chinedu and Dr. Amaka Nwosu, the group said they were concerned because stories of possible political deals between the governor and Odionyenma had dominated the media, especially the social media.

The group said: ‘’And the questions we are asking are: Is it true that Odionyenma was one of the multi-millionaires who bankrolled Governor Ihedioha’s governorship campaign between 2018 and 2019, as reported by the media?

‘’Is it correct that the … indicted businessman was one of the highest donors to Governor Ihedioha’s campaign purse..? Is it also true that Odionyenma’s rapport with Governor Ihedioha predates the 2019 general election..?’’

Sir Ferdinand Rogers alleged on twitter that “he (Odionyenma) singlehandedly sponsored his (Ihedioha’s) election.”

Felix Fabeku lamented that “our country has lost its dignity and strength… when did our country lost its dignity? how and why?”

@ovbiudu tweeted: “Many of the 80 alleged fraudsters under investigation by the FBI are bosom friends, associates of many Nigerian politicians. The net should be cast wider.”

Governor Ihedioha has said Odionyenma did not sponsor his election.

Ihedioha described the report as false and malicious, noting that dubious characters were behind it.

A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Chibuike Onyeukwu, said he was not aware that Odionyenma was involved in any crime or being investigated for financial crimes.

The statement reads: “It has become necessary to disclaim as false and malicious, a social media report that the 2019 electioneering campaign of Governor Emeka Ihedioha was bankrolled by Mr Augustine Chika Odionyenma, who is reported to have been implicated by the Federal Bureau of Information (FBI)…for offences connected with money laundering and wire transfer.

“His Excellency was not aware if he is involved in any form of crime or being investigated for financial crimes.

“We are not unaware that the false report is sponsored by some elements, who have held Imo State down over the years and are known to have perpetrated various fraudulent acts. Their attempt to malign the hard earned reputation and integrity of His Excellency has already failed.

“Nigerians have received the malicious report with disbelief, given the credibility and upright trajectory of His Excellency, who is a role model to the younger generation.”

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