STOP CRIMINALIZING ENTERPRISE! Imo Economic Forum Warns Ihedioha, EFCC

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Aliu Mambara

The Imo State Economic Forum has accused the Imo State governor, Chief Emeka Ihedioha of destroying the economic fortunes of the State by targeting the investments of his political opponents for attack.

Speaking through its coordinator, Chief Anslem Uchendu, the group regretted that investors no longer feel safe in Imo State, hence, most of them are relocating from the State in droves.

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"Imo State has lost over 100 billion Naira investments in the past four months. This is because immediately after the governorship election, the then governor-elect, Emeka Ihedioha began to make incendiary statements that could frighten any serious minded investor. Most of these investors began to relocate their investments from the State to elsewhere, even before he was sworn in as governor."

"As soon he was sworn in as governor, Chief Ihedioha began a deliberate policy of criminalizing enterprise. He began to target the investments of his perceived and real political opponents for attack. In doing this, he has shakes the confidence of investors who may have been attracted to invest in the State by the previous administration. The governor declared that lands allocated by the previous administration would be revoked and he is already making true that threat."

"While I do not hold brief for Owelle Rochas Okorocha, I can confidently tell you that Imo experienced a revolution in the real estate sector during his tenure as governor. The development witnessed in the real estate sector within the eight years he held sway was not seen in about 36 years of Imo's existence before he came to power."

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The forum also deplores the alleged attempts by the Imo State government to use the EFCC to destroy the business fortunes and investments of the former governor, his family members and his associates. He tagged this; " a criminalization of enterprise."

"The government is criminalizing enterprise and encouraging economic drain. Okorocha should not be victimized for choosing to site most of his investments in Imo State, even as a sitting governor. He must not be criminalized for encouraging his family members and associates to bring their investments back home. This is more like punishing someone for loving his home.

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"Most Nigerian politicians would hide away their investments in other countries of the world, or even in islands, where such investments are of no use to the people. These politicians use their monies to develop other countries' economies and create jobs and wealth opportunities for citizens of other countries, but Okorocha brought these investments down home, whereby developing the State's economy and creating jobs for the citizenry. To me, he should be praised, rather than been punished like the present government is doing. Okorocha was one of the biggest investors in Imo State before he became governor, he continued in that line even as a sitting governor. He did not stop investing in Imo State."

"I will advise other politicians to emulate Owelle Rochas Okorocha. They should bring back their investments home. They should repatriate the wealth they use to develop South Africa, Europe and the Americas to the country. This will go a long way in improving opportunities for Nigeria's teeming population and growing the economy of the country. Also, infrastructure would be greatly enhanced if more politicians invest at home, because they will be forced to at least attract public infrastructure to the areas where their investments are located."

He advised the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission not to allow itself to be used as a political tool to persecute opponents of the government.

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"The EFCC is doing a great job by fighting corruption, but it is obvious that politicians sometimes make attempts to hijack them for their selfish goals. They should not allow itself to be used as political attack dogs, willingly or unwillingly."

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