From Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
A group, Rivers Integrity and Development Forum (RIDF), has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe Governor Rotimi Amaechi for alleged financial abuses.
The Chairman of the group, Warigbani Ezekiel, at a press briefing in Port Harcourt on Wednesday said Rivers state under Governor Amaechi since 2007 had received over N2.4 trillion statutory allocation as well as internally generated revenue and yet has a debt profile of between N250 billion to N500 billion.
Ezekiel alleged: “At inception of office, Amaechi promised Rivers people that he was saving N1 billion monthly on their behalf as a kind of state Sovereign Wealth Fund. And since he made that promise till date makes it 58 months. That means N58 billion have been saved for Rivers people.”
Among other allegations, the group also accused Amaechi’s Government of giving conflicting figures on the borrowing and debt profile of the state as well as duplication, inflation and partisan award of contracts to the detriment of the state’s treasury while also flaying sales of government properties and seizure of communal lands for alleged transfer to private concerns.
Citing the lingering Monorail Project as a vexed case, Ezekiel noted: “While Governor Amaechi declared that the Monorail project was worth about N36 billion, his Commissioner of Transport, Tolofari reportedly declared its cost as N16 billion.”
Reacting to the allegations, however, Chief of Staff to Government House, Tony Okocha, said there was a subsisting court order barring any agency from probing any official of the Rivers State government or any of its agencies.
“Until that order is vacated by a court of competent jurisdiction, no agency of the Federal Government be it the EFCC or the ICPC can probe the government of Rivers State, Okocha stressed.
“Those who want to come to equity must come with clean hands. The court has ordered that the government of Governor Amaechi should not be probed,” he said.