Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi has warned former chairmen of Local Government Caretaker Committees in the state to return the funds they allegedly stole from their councils or face investigation and trial.
Umahi gave the warning at a maiden media interaction and dinner he hosted on Friday in Abakaliki.
At he event, attended by top government officials and party chieftains, the governor said he would also take steps to prosecute contractors of failed projects in the state.
“I will give the ex-chairmen the opportunity to quietly return the stolen funds, running into billions of naira, so that people would not say that we are witch-hunting them because they defected to the opposition party. We are ready to negotiate with them on how they intend to refund the funds.
“If they fail to do so, I will personally drag them to the EFCC and ensure their prosecution.Our position is in tune with President Muhammadu Buhari’s zero tolerance for corruption,’’ he said.
The governor said that contractors who were yet to complete the projects awarded to them would be invited for re-assessment, to determine ways of completing such projects.
He said contractors that failed the re-assessment exercise would be made to return the money paid to them by the government.
“The contractors whose jobs passed the exercise would be encouraged to complete their jobs, while those who have already completed their projects would be paid all arrears owed.
“We will also invite the Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) to conduct an ‘integrity test’ on the World Trade Centre, a project initiated by the first civilian government in the state.
“The decision to complete the project will be determined by the test’s result, as we would also seek the stakeholders input on the project,’’ he said.
The governor directed people living in flood-prone areas in the state to relocate on time, following the prediction of impending flooding across the country.
“You should relocate to a safer place until a permanent solution is found.The state government does not have money to pay compensation on flooding. If you relocate for that temporary period, I can assure you that nobody will take over your land and property,
” he said.