The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on Friday swore in three new commissioners, including an Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, whom he gave the charge to probe and prosecute his predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi, for the alleged disappearance of $50m from the state’s coffers during his administration.
According to Wike, there is a need for the people of Rivers State and the rest of the world to know what actually happened to a sum of $50m from the illegal sale of some state’s assets.
He said Amaechi would be probed and prosecuted alongside Mr Tonye Cole, Sahara Energy and others.
But in a swift reaction, the spokesman for the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State, Chris Finebone, said Amaechi and Cole had no fear of appearing in court because they did no wrong.
A statement on Friday by his media aide, Kelvin Ebiri, had quoted Wike to have spoken during the swearing-in of the new commissioners at the Executive Chamber of the Government House in Port Harcourt.
The new commissioners are Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor, sworn in as Attorney General; Isaac Kamalu, Commissioner for Finance, Budget and Economic Planning; and Dr George-Kelly Alabo, as Commissioner for Works and Special Projects.
Wike said, “Attorney General, you came at a critical period when people want to know what the state is going to do with the Judiciary Panel of Inquiry after the Supreme Court judgment on it. Luckily, you came at the right time when we have preferred criminal charges against the former governor (Amaechi), Sahara Energy, Tonye Cole and the rest of them.
“So, you are coming at the right time to take over the matter and to make sure it is prosecuted diligently. I don’t want to hear excuses. Let the people see what happened to our money.
“The world will see how $50m from our account was moved to a company without anything to show whether there was a business.”
But reacting, Finebone said the court wasn’t a place for persecution, saying, “If you are sure of yourself in whatever you are doing, you need not be afraid. The court is not a place where they take you to, then they just order that your neck be cut off.”
“The court is where justice prevails. So, no right-thinking innocent person should be afraid to go to court because it is not a one-sided place.
“As it is now, Amaechi and Cole are not culpable. We know that and even the state government, that is Wike and his people, know that,” Finebone added.
Meanwhile, Wike also directed the attorney general to write a protest letter to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission over alleged harassment of the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State, Siminalaye Fubara.
Wike said the anti-graft agency needed to know that the era of impunity and flagrant disregard for the rule of law was gone, saying the state had a subsisting court judgment barring the EFCC from meddling in the state’s financial transactions.
He said, “The Rivers State Government has a judgment against the EFCC since 2007. The court said you (EFCC) have no business in the financial transactions of the state. The EFCC has been struggling to set aside that judgment but till now they have not even appealed it.”
He alleged that the move by the anti-graft agency was political.
“We are in a political period. People should not think that they will use the EFCC to intimidate or manipulate him (Fubara). Nobody will accept that. So, you (attorney general) have to attach the judgment of the candidate against EFCC and send the right signal to them that we are not people that can be cowed,” Wike said.
He commended the newly sworn-in commissioners, saying they had shown capacity, loyalty and commitment in previous assignments.
He stated, “I want to commend the three of you that you have shown commitment, you have shown hard work, you have shown loyalty. And for me, that is the only way to pay back the people who have shown loyalty. In spite of all odds, they are still here,” he said.
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