Governor Seriake Dickson
A non-governmental organisation (NGO), Transparency and Good Governance Coalition (TGGC), has given the Bayelsa State Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) seven days to charge the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Speaker, Hon. Konbowei Friday, his deputy, Hon. Victor Sam-Afeki, and the Clerk of the Assembly, Mr. Aaron Timiye to court for conspiracy and misappropriation of public funds or legal action.
Sam-Afeki and some members of the Assembly, who allegedly collected some amount of money for an unattended course in South Africa had refunded the sum of N21,923,000 last Friday.
In a letter signed by its lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), and made available to THISDAY, the group warned the DPP that if it failed to accede to its request it will not hesitate to file an application for mandamus at High Court with a view to compelling him to arraign the officers in court pursuant to the report of police investigation which had established a prima facie case of conspiracy, fraudulent misappropriation and stealing by conversion of public funds against them.
The grouped noted that the fight against corruption which is an avowed policy of the Goodluck Jonathan administration cannot succeed if some indicted public officers are treated like sacred cows.
It noted that in view of the well known fact that Hon Herman Hembe and Hon. Ifeanyi Azubuogu of the House of Representatives had been charged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for misappropriation and conversion of public funds in similar circumstances, it has no doubt that the necessary charges would be filed against the said officials at the High Court of Bayelsa State.
The letter read: “Following the petition of our client to the Special Fraud Unit of the Nigeria Police Force an investigation was conducted into the illegal diversion of the sum of N78 million by the members of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly.
“Upon the conclusion of the investigation the Special Fraud Unit established that the said sum of N78 million collected by the members of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly to attend a conference in South Africa last year was diverted and misappropriated.
“Based on the report of the police investigation the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation has advised that charges of conspiracy, stealing and misappropriation of public funds be filed against the Speaker, his deputy and the Clerk of the House, who had refunded the sum of N21,923,000 to the treasury of Bayelsa State be used as prosecution witnesses.
“Kindly note that if you fail to accede to our request we shall not hesitate to take file an application for mandamus at High Court with a view to compelling you to arraign the aforementioned suspects in court pursuant to the report of police investigation which has established a prima facie case of conspiracy, fraudulent misappropriation and stealing by conversion of public funds against the leadership of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly.”