Monday, August 27, 2018 9:29 am
Okafor Ofiebor /Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has declared that no official of the Rivers State Government will appear before Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC over what it called ‘politically motivated investigations’ until the commission approaches the Court of Appeal to set aside the 2007 Judgment barring the commission from investigating the state.
EFCC, according to reports, is probing about N117b suspicious transactions by the Wike administration in the last three years.
According to reports in The Nation newspaper, the N117 billion was intermittently withdrawn over the counter by an official of the state government with fears that the funds were subsequently laundered by some state officials.
Acccording to the newspaper, four officials of the State government have been invivited by the anti-graft agency for probe over the withdrawals.
The EFCC has detained a bank’s Managing Director (MD), who admitted that N5.2billion was realised as charges for the “controversial” transactions.
Premium Times had in a report on Sunday identified the the detained bank boss as Mr. Peter Amangbo, the Managing Director of Zenith Bank.
The bank, according to the report, was guilty of “lack of Suspicious Transaction Report(STR)” and violation of Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011, especially sections on special surveillance on certain transactions and Limitation to make or accept cash payment.
The withdrawals were allegedly made in tranches of N10million with as many as 50 cheques cashed in a day, in what was described as a “gross violation” of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act of 2011.
But in a statement on Sunday, Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu quoted Governor Wike as describing the alleged action of the EFCC as a “political witch-hunt”.
The governor declared: “We are not afraid of their probe and they have no power to probe us.
“No government official will appear before the EFCC until they set aside the court judgment of Rivers State Government against them in 2007. We cannot be intimidated.
“They filed for leave to appeal the judgment at the Court of Appeal. Until they set aside the judgment, we will not come. ”
Governor Wike said that the media trial by the EFCC will amount to nothing, pointing out that the Rivers State Government was aware of the move before it even started.
“We are aware of their tricks. They should not bother engaging in media trial because it will not work. This is mere political witch-hunt.
“They must obey the of law. We have filed another action against the EFCC. Because they have been served, they are telling the Press that they have started investigating Rivers State Government.
“This media war by the EFCC will not work. We stand on the rule of law”, Governor Wike stated.
It will be recalled that while Speaking on the freezing of Akwa Ibom State and Benue State accounts recently at the Government House Port Harcourt , Governor Wike said that the ultimate target of the APC Federal Government is Rivers State, where they have already detailed the EFCC to carry out very unconstitutional activities.
He said: “There is no worse impunity than for the EFCC to shutdown a tier of government through the freezing of the accounts of two State Governments.
“An agency of federal government has frozen the accounts of Akwa Ibom and Benue State Governments . This is the worst coup against the constitution and the law-abiding people of those states.
“But the target is not Benue or Akwa Ibom States. The real target is Rivers State. The EFCC as a federal agency has no business with State Funds. That is the responsibility of the State House of Assembly “.
He said that Rivers State Government under Former Rivers State Governor, Dr Peter Odili obtained got a court judgment that the EFCC has no constitutional power to investigate state funds, pointing out that the EFCC is yet to vacate that order at a superior court.
Governor Wike also alleged that the APC Federal Government has continued to use the EFCC for illegal actions in Rivers State, despite the Attorney General of Rivers State writing to the EFCC and attaching the said judgement against the Federal Agency.