N96 Billion Fraud: WIKE, RIVERS LEADERS TO MEET, DECIDE FATE OF AMAECHI, TONYE COLE, OTHERS

Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike says leaders of Rivers State will meet to decide on whether to commence criminal prosecution of the former Minister of Transport, Chibuike Amaechi, over the fraudulent sales of some valued State assets and diversion of state funds.

The governor said those whose fate will also be decided during the meeting, will include, Mr. Tonye Cole, Sahara Energy Ltd, and former Rivers State, Commissioner of Transport, George Tolofari.

Kelvin Ebiri, Special Assistant on Media to the Rivers State Governor, stated in a report that Governor Wike, during a media parley attended by Rivers Elders in Abuja on Friday, May 27, 2022, said the Supreme Court judgment that dismissed Amaechi’s appeal to frustrate investigation into activities of his administration, has vindicated the Rivers State government.

He explained that on his assumption of office in 2015, the State government set up judicial panel of inquiry to investigate the activities the former Rivers State governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi’s administration.

The judicial panel was mandated to investigate the sale of the 150 Mega Watts gas turbine in Omoku, Afam 360 MW Gas Turbine, Trans-Amadi 136 MW Gas Turbine and the 75 MW Gas turbine in Eleme; Monorail Project; the sale of Olympia hotel; and non-execution of the contract for the construction of Justice Karibi-Whyte hospital after the Amaechi administration paid $39.2m to the contractor.

Governor Wike said the judicial panel at the end of its investigation submitted its report and recommendations to the State government. According to him, this necessitated the State Government to come up with a White Paper Report.

“So many people were indicted by that report and so we didn’t go to court to file charges against those that were indicted because some people went to court, particularly, the former governor, Rotimi Amaechi. And as those who obey the rule of law and have respect for court, we said we will not take any step further until the court decides.

“At the State High court, the Rivers State Government won. The former governor went to the Court of Appeal, the Rivers State Government won. And then he appealed to the Supreme Court to set aside the recommendations of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and the White Paper of the government.

“To the glory of God, the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed his appeal against the judicial panel of inquiry report and the government White Paper Report.”

Governor Wike said the State government has been vindicated by the Supreme Court judgment because those indicted by the Judicial Panel of Inquiry were given the opportunity to defend themselves, but some of them chose not to appear before the panel.

“If you see that report, as a Rivers man you will cry. Nobody who loves Rivers State will see that report and will not cry. Now that the Supreme Court has come up with their judgment, the leaders of the State will decide what next step to take. It is not for only me. Yes, I am a governor, I can’t do it alone. If the leaders of the State say we must prosecute them, I have no choice.”

He further added: “The money that was collected by Sahara Energy and Tonye Cole, it is for the leaders of the State to say should we go ahead and file charges against Rotimi Amaechi and his cohorts, or should we allow it to be. It is for the State elders. The State elders will meet and agree on what next to do. But the point is, let the world know that nobody who will see that report and not be angry.”

The Rivers State governor narrated how the sum of $50 million was diverted from the State account and paid to Sahara Energy for inexplicable reason. According to him, there is no evidence of any transaction indicating that the State is indebted to the company.

“What did Sahara Energy do for us? What is the transaction that we paid $50 Million for. You said Sahara Energy bought our gas turbines, if they bought our gas turbines, why are we paying them $50million? Did we borrow money from them and where is the agreement to show we borrowed money from them? Nothing.

“People will come out and begin to sing we are innocent. I thank God we have been vindicated. We did the right thing. It is for Rivers people to decide the next line of action. If they decide today that they will file criminal charges, I have no choice than to direct the Ministry of Justice to file charges against Rotimi Amaechi, Sahara Energy, and Tonye Cole.”

The governor said due to the corruption allegation levelled against Amaechi, he was not supposed to be cleared by the Senate to become a minister, but the All Progressives Congress, APC led federal government prevailed on the lawmakers to gloss over the matter.

The Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ikunyi Awaji Ibani, said the apex court judgment is a victory for the government and people of Rivers State.

He charged those saddled with the responsible to superintend over public funds to always bear in mind that the funds belong to the people.

Similarly, the former president, Nigerian Bar Association, Onueze C. J. Okocha, (SAN), commended Governor Wike, for always defending the interest of the State.

He said leaders of the State will make a decision and give honest advise to the governor on the way forward.

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