Monday, August 24, 2015 5:18 pm
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Rivers Judicial Commission of Enquiry set up to by Governor Nyesom Wike to probe former Governor Chibuike Amaechi’s administration alleged mismanagement of state assets has clarified that the panel is not on a witch-hunt of anybody but on a mere fact finding mission.
Justice George Omereji,Chairman of the panel who gave the clarification today at its inaugural sitting in Port Harcourt said that the panel is a merely set up to find out how valuable assets of the state were managed during the period as stipulated in the terms of reference.
The state assets being probed include; the sale of Olympia Hotel,Gas turbines,Construction of Monorail,Construction of Karibi-Whyte hospital among others.
He said that the Judicial Commission of Enquiry is not a court of law and has no power to indict or convict anybody.
Justice Omereji explained the panel would draw its conclusions and recommendation’s based on the facts contained in memoranda submitted to it by members of the public and those invited to defend themselves by adopting the principle of fair hearing with relevant documents to assist the panel.
He also said the panel would also allow parties to engage Lawyers of their choice.
He pointed out that as a disciplined judicial panel,which was inaugurated in June could not sit because it had to patiently wait for the outcome of the case instituted by Augustine Nwokocha, the former Commissioner for Power who had taken the panel to court to stop its sitting at a Federal High Court,Abuja, but was dismissed,and a similar case by Amaechi at the a High Court in Port Harcourt suffered same fate.
In a press statement today, Amaechi expressed misgivings about the probe, saying it has a predetermined objective, set by Governor Nyesom Wike.
Meanwhile, the panel has threatened to invoke the relevant sections of Commission of Enquiry law of Rivers to compel anybody who evades the summon of the panel.
The lawyer to the panel,Zaccheaus Adango issued this threat due to the nonappearance of Emmanuel Chinda,the former Commissioner for Agricultural at the sitting of the panel today to answer questions on the disbursement of N4 Billion Agricultural loan to farmers.
He said if the former Commissioner refuses to appear before the panel tomorrow, Tuesday, the Commission would be compelled to invoke its powers to compel him do so.
Under the law,the panel could issue a warrant of arrest to anybody summoned.