- Probe report indicts ex-Gov
- Lawmakers debate petition on alleged N70bn fraud against him
Senators from Rivers state have called on President Buhari to reconsider presenting former governor of the state Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, stressing that he is being investigated for fraud while in office.
Speaking with journalists yesterday, Senator George Thompson Sekibo (Rivers East), on behalf of senators from the state, said Amaechi was alleged to have looted N70billion of Rivers state funds. Amaechi, however, has denied the allegation, maintaining that he is being witch-hunted by his successor, Nyesom Wike.
They Senators have also vowed that if nothing is done about Amaechi’s case they would do all they can to stop his confirmation when the senate screens the nominees.
According to Sekibo, “The Integrity Group”, a non-governmental organisation, had two months ago petitioned the president over fraud and corruption allegedly committed by Amaechi while he was governor, maintaining that the president might not have seen the document, but said that stopping Amaechi’s confirmation at the senate was the next option.
“I’m informed that this petition reached the EFCC two months ago. And soon they will begin investigation. As a serving minister, how can Amaechi be investigated for corruption?” he asked.
“As a state, we are fighting to recover our looted funds just as the president is fighting to recover the nation’s stolen funds. Our take is, if you are appointing Amaechi as minister, how do you want him to be investigated? We want the president to know that there are allegations of corruption and fraud against Amaechi.”
Just yesterday, Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike received the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry established by his administration to investigate the sale of valued Rivers State Government property and other related matters by the administration of former Governor Rotimi Amaechi.
The governor, who received the report from the Commission’s Chairman, Justice George Omereji at the Government House, Port Harcourt, declared that his administration will diligently implement the recommendations of the Commission in the interest of the state and her people.
This is as the Chairman of the Commission, Justice Omereji advised the state government to act on the report quickly to ensure that billions of Naira of state funds stashed in private accounts are recovered.
The governor declared that, in addition to implementing the report, his administration will make the content public and also intimate the public on the next line of action.
Governor Wike said: “We will make sure that we swing into action immediately to see that the recommendations by the Commission are implemented.
“We will not be intimidated by anybody or group of persons. So many things have been done to discredit your commission but to me, I know when the hands of a person are not clean, he resorts to the media.”
While commending members of the Commission for serving the state honestly, Governor Wike acknowledged that he is aware of the threats they faced in the course of carrying out the state assignment.
“I know the threats you and your members faced. But what is important in life is, once you are clean and your conscience is clear, go ahead and do what is right.”
Earlier, the Chairman of Rivers State Commission of Inquiry into the Sale of Valued State Assets and other related matters, Justice Omereji informed the governor that the commission received 442 exhibits, 27 memoranda while 25 witnesses testified before it.
He added that the commission visited several sites in line with its terms of reference.
According to him, “Government should act fast on the report and Rivers people will be better for it. If government acts fast, we will be able to recover billions stashed into where they kept them. That money belongs to the Rivers people and I hope government would act fast to recover it, so that it would be used for the people of Rivers State.”
He noted that the commission’s work was delayed by two suits filed by former governor Amaechi and Mr Augustine Wokocha, stressing that the commission only started sitting after the dismissal of the suits.
It will be recalled that Governor Wike had set up the commission with the mandate to investigate the sale of the following; Omoku 150 MW gas turbine, Afam 360 MW gas turbine, Trans-Amadi 136 MW gas turbine and Eleme 75 MW gas turbine.
The panel also investigated the sales of Olympia Hotel, the execution of Mono-rail project, non-execution of the Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte Specialist Hospital, after the payment of Thirty-nine million and two hundred thousand dollars to the contractor.
The Commission also investigated the disbursement and use of the Rivers State Ministry of Agriculture credit guarantee scheme fund of N2billion and the withdrawal of N96 billion from the State Reserve Funds. The panel was also mandated to ascertain the circumstances of the sales of the four gas turbines and to identify the purchasers and also confirm whether the transaction was conducted transparently.