Rivers orders prosecution of Amaechi, others for ‘misappropriating N98 billion’


Ex-Governor Rotimi Amaechi
Ex-Governor Rotimi Amaechi

The Rivers State Government has directed the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Chinwe Aguma, SAN, to begin the process of prosecuting the former Governor, Chibuike Amaechi and other commissioners indicted by the Justice George Omereji-led Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the sale of valued assets of the state and other related matters by the last administration.

Governor Nyesom Wike has also ordered the suspension of permanent secretaries and other top civil servants indicted in the report of the commission which was submitted to him on Wednesday.

The decision followed the acceptance of the recommendations of the commission by the state government.

Addressing journalists on Friday in Port Harcourt after the state executive council issued a White Paper on the Commission’s report, the Commissioner for Housing, Hon. Emma Okah, said the commission’s findings showed that Amaechi and his aides misappropriated more than N98 billion during the period and items covered in the commission’s probe.

Some of the areas the commission indicted the former governor, according to Okah, included the withdrawal of N53 billion from the state reserve fund between 2014 and 2015, misapplication of N3 billion Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) agriculture loan, concessioning of Hotel Olympia for 40 years at $1 million, the Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte Hospital of which the state paid $39.2 million out of the $98 million cost without anything on ground to show for it, leasing of Orosi House in 2012 at the cost of N300 million per annum even when the building was already gutted by fire, as well as N35 billion spent on the monorail project, among others.

He said Amaechi would be prosecuted along with the former commissioner for Finance, Dr. Chamberlain Peterside, and his counterparts in the Ministry of Power, Sir Augustine Nwokocha; and in the Ministry of Agriculture, Hon. Emma Chindah.

Okah stated that the state government also ordered the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, to commence the recovery of funds realised from the sale of the four gas turbines from the former governor and Nwokocha.

On the state’s power assets, Okah said: “The first term of reference was to ascertain the sale of the Omoku 150 megawatts gas turbine; Afam 360 megawatts gas turbine; Trans-Amadi 136 megawatts gas turbine and the Eleme 75 megawatts gas turbine by the administration of former Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.

“The commission finds as a fact that the sale of 70 per cent equity from the First Independent Power Limited in Omoku gas turbine, Trans-Amadi gas turbine, Afam  Phase I gas turbine and Eleme gas turbine, have been very difficult to justify. They have therefore recommended the review of sale of the power assets and the government of Rivers State has accepted that recommendation.

“Refund of proceeds by Amaechi, Peterside and Nwokocha: In furtherance of this findings that the sale of the four gas turbines was not justifiable and against the interest of the government and people of Rivers State, the commission recommends that Amaechi, along with Peterside and Nwokocha, respectively, should be held to account for their roles in the sale of the power generation assets of First Independent Power Limited and the disbursement of the proceeds there from.

“Government accepts this recommendation and directs the office of the honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, to promptly set in motion the appropriate machinery for the recovery of the proceeds of the sale of the gas turbines from the former governor, and all other persons implicated in the dubious transactions leading to the sale of the turbines; including Sahara Energy Resources and NG Power HPS Limited.”

Okah stated that the state government had directed the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to recover N3 billion from former Commissioner for Agriculture, Emma Chinda, being the loan from CBN which the commissioner and Amaechi diverted and converted to grants.

He further stated that former commissioner for Health, Dr. Sampson Parker is also expected to refund some billions of naira that was used without due process for the construction of the Justice Karibi-Whyte Hospital while the former commissioner for Transport, George Tolofari and former military Governor of Old Rivers State, General Anthony Ukpo, are to join Amaechi in returning N35 billion spent on the state monorail project without passing through due process.

Efforts to get a reaction from Amaechi were not successful as at press time. (Thisday)

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