The conTroversy surrounding
the confirmation of former governor of
Rivers State, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi as
ministerial nominee by All Progressives
Congress Senators despite protests by
their Peoples Democratic Party, PDP
colleagues has rekindled the debate
on the corruption war of the present
administration. The PDP senators had
aligned with the recommendations
of the Senate Ethics and Privileges
Committee that Amaechi’s screening and
confirmation should be kept in abeyance
pending when the case he instituted in
court over his indictment by the Rivers
state government is dispensed with. The
Senate Rule forbids the upper chamber
from deliberating on any issue in court,
but majority of APC senators in the case
of Amaechi subverted this rule.
It is believed that Amaechi was given
preferential treatment because of the
huge resources he pumped into the APC
campaign. It was the incumbent governor
of Bauchi State, Mohammed Abubakar
that confirmed speculations over the
enormous resources the immediate past
governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi
invested in the APC campaign when he
declared at a public function that Amaechi
funded 80 per cent of the APC campaign
during the last general election.
Speaking in an live interview on Sunrise
Daily on Channels Television, Governor
Abubakar, who was innocently trying to
appreciate the role played by Amaechi
during the last election, unwittingly
confirmed the allegation by the PDP and
other Rivers State Stakeholders who had
earlier accused Rotimi Amaechi of using
state funds and borrowing from financial
institutions on behalf of Rivers State to
fund the APC. The revelation by the APC
governor is yet to be denied by either
Amaechi, who was the Director General
of the Buhari Campaign Organisation or
the leadership of the APC.
While Nigerians are still awaiting
the belated response from the APC,
another startling revelation came from
the United States of America where
CNN’s Amampour Live reported that
Amaechi stacked a whooping sum of over
$757 million in a foreign US Bancorp/
Minnesota account.
Following the CNN revelation of money that was alleged to be
stashed in the United States by
Amaechi, the River State chapter
of the PDP picked up the issue
and challenge Amaechi to come
out of hiding and respond to
avalanche of corruption charges
against him.
The state chairman of the
PDP, Felix Obuah in a statement
signed by his special adviser
on media and publicity, Jerry
Needam, said the degree
and number of fraudulent
acts allegedly initiated and
committed by the former
Governor are shocking and can
no longer be glossed over.
The state PDP chairman
emphasised that it will be
foolhardy for any responsible
government not to take the
mind-blowing fraudulent
charges from both local and
international scenes seriously.
Before the revelation by the
Bauchi State governor and
CNN, a non-governmental
organisation, the Integrity
Group had also petitioned
President Buhari as well as the
chairman of the Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission,
EFCC, respectively of various
cases of alleged criminal
breach of trust, unlawful self
enrichment and conversion
of over N70 billion belonging
to Rivers State government
by former Governor Amaechi
among others.
This is aside of over $105
million, amounting to about
N21 billion which the PDP said
Amaechi hurriedly transferred
from the sale of the Power
Assets proceeds Account with
the Access Bank into accounts
of three private companies
namely: Advante Consulting
and Management Company,
Result Import Experts Co and
Capital Index Ltd, all with
the same business address at
25 Trans-Amadi Road, Port
Harcourt.
According to the party, there
was also another unlawful
payment to and fraudulent
conversion of N4, 633,440,000.00
by Clinoriv Specialist Hospital
and Leisure Limited and
unlawful enrichment of Messrs
Collect Nig Limited, allegedly
used as a conduit pipe to the
tune of N1, 505,895,072.00, to
defraud the State government
under the guise of consultancy
by the former governor.
Another disturbing aspect of
these controversial transfers is
that the monies were moved into
the accounts just days before
the APC presidential primary
in Lagos on December 10, 2014.
It was also alleged that the
Accountant General of Rivers
State as well as the Directors
and Permanent Secretaries in
the Ministries of Power and
Finance claimed that they knew
nothing about this particular
transaction.
The party therefore wants
President Buhari to stop
shielding Rotimi Amaechi and
rather encourage him to come
out of his hiding and face all
these corruption allegations
against him if his anti corruption
crusade is genuine, and not
targeted at perceived political
enemies.
Concerned indigenes
of Rivers State took these
allegations a step further by
producing documents, evidence
and facts, which show that
about $105 million was actually
moved from the Rivers State’s
Power Sales Assets account
with Access Bank to a number
of companies who interestingly
share a common business
address.
The various groups prayed
the Buhari Government to
ensure that whatever monies the
past administration siphoned
from the coffers of Rivers State
should be retrieved urgently
and all those who conspired
to perpetrate the raping of
Rivers State in such a manner
should all be brought to book
immediately.
While the Amaechi’s case
remain an acid test for the
APC’s anti-graft war, especially
now that the APC Senators have
given his leeway to join the
Federal Executive Council, five
months into the administration
of President Muhammadu
Buhari, the ability of the All
Progressives Congress, APCled
government to tackle
holistically corruption is being
called to question in several
quarters by Nigerians and the
international community.
The seed that gave birth to
the present skepticism about the
sincerity and capability of the
Buhari administration to fight
corruption on all fronts was
sowed during the electioneering
campaign.
Prior to the 2015 general
election Buhari had contested
the presidential election on
three different occasions and
lost largely due to several
factors principal among which
is his limited financial resources
to prosecute expensive
presidential campaign.
During the previous elections
Buhari was even reported
to have turned down huge
financial donations from people
whose source of wealth are
questionable based on principle
not to associate or dine with
corrupt individuals.
However, in 2015 all that
changed as the campaign of
Buhari, which gulped several
billions was financed by
individuals who cannot explain
the source of their wealth.
Several persons who are also
facing corruption charges were
also very prominent at Buhari’s
campaign train.
On Buhari’s campaign train,
was the former governor of
Gombe State, Senator Danjuma
Goje. Senator Goje and four
others are standing trial on
charges of conspiracy and
money laundering amounting
to N25 billion during his tenure
as governor.
The other four accused
persons are Aliyu El- Nafaty,
Sambo Tumu, SM Dakoro
and S.M. Dakoro Gombe (a
company). They are being tried
at the Federal High Court sitting
in Gombe, where they were first
arraigned in October 2011. The
charges against Goje borders
on abuse of office, awarding
contracts without budget
provision and obtaining by false
pretence and misappropriation
of public funds.
Also on Buhari’s campaign
team was former governor
of Nasarawa State, Senator
Abdullahi Adamu, who was
arraigned in court on 3 March
2010 alongside 18 others on
a 149-count charge of fraud
involving over N15 billion.
APC governorship candidate
in Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva of
Bayelsa State, who was reported
to have bankrolled purchase of
Buhari’s nomination form, is
standing trial in suit number
FHC/CR/167/2013. Sylva is
charged with six others and
shady companies for frittering
away the sum of N75 billion
away in phony contracts and
projects between May 2007 and
December 2007. Sylva received
N250 billion in statutory
allocations as governor but
cannot point to one concrete
thing he did with the money.
The allegations against Sylva
are legion. Sylva is alleged
to have diverted state funds
totalling $40 million into his
account in a dormant and docile
company named Bayelsa Oil
Company; between May 2007
and March 2008, N1.8 billion
was allegedly paid for feasibility
studies to an unknown
Company for the establishment
of Bayelsa State Micro Finance
Bank; towards the end of 2008
Governor Sylva allegedly spent
N1.2 billion on printing of MTN
recharge cards bearing his
photograph and name without
authorisation from the State
House of Assembly.
Former governor of Kwara
State, Senator Bukola Saraki,
who is in the vanguard for the
election of Buhari is still having
issues with anti-graft agencies
over his role in the collapse
of the Societe Generale Bank
where millions of Nigerians lost
their hard earned money.
One of the major backers
of Buhari campaign is former
governor of Adamawa state,
Admiral Murtala Nyako. EFCC
had earlier declared Nyako
and his son, Abdulaziz wanted
over allegations of conspiracy,
stealing, abuse of office and
money laundering.
The determination of the
present administration to
tackle corruption is further
undermined by the fielding of
two governorship candidates in
Kogi and Bayelsa States that are
facing corruption charges.
It is strongly believed in
several quarters that the APC
has become a safe haven for
politicians that have corruption
cases hanging on their neck.
Political pundits have
expressed worry that the APC
administration appears to be
tacitly shielding members of
their party and supporters from
the anti-graft probe as all those
that are either being investigates
or tried over alleged corruption
belong to the opposition PDP.
The latest trend in the
polity is for anyone that has
skeletons in their closet to
defect to APC and will be given
automatic immunity from probe
irrespective of the gravity of the
allegations against them.
The EFCC and other antigraft
agencies have since the
new administration jettisoned
all petitions against members
of the APC and this is sending
negative signals about the
Buhari administration anticorruption
campaign.
This is a deviation from
the past when the PDP
administration, despite been
dubbed as corrupt, still dragged
some of their members alleged
to be corrupt to court.
For instance, the case against
former governor of Jigawa state,
Sule Lamido was initiated by
PDP administration. Other like
Abdullahi Adamu, Timipre
Sylva, Danjuma Goje and a host
of other defected from PDP
to the then opposition party
when the party decline to use
its influence to shield them from
trial.
Political observers are of the
view that it is imperative for
President Buhari to overhaul his
anti-graft war and ensure it is
not selective as being perceived
in several quarters. Buhari’s
biggest selling point prior to
the presidential election was
the belief that he will tackle the
corruption malaise pervasive in
the country, but several months
into the new administration,
millions of Nigerians are
beginning to have a rethink of
his capacity to holistically stem
corruption without sparing
some sacred cows.


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