Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
Senators George Thompson Sekibo (Rivers East) and Magnus Abe (Rivers South East) thursday differed over the N13 billion found in an Ikoyi apartment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
While Sekibo insisted that the money belongs to the Rivers State Government, Abe called for him to be summoned to appear before the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo-led panel, to provide proof to buttress his claim.
Sekibo is of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while Abe was elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Sekibo, in a point of order raised at plenary yesterday,Â said the Rivers State GovernmentÂ had already â€˜blown a whistleâ€™ that money amounting to $700 million was taken from the coffers of the state.
The state Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, had claimed that the N13 billion is part of monies allegedly stolen from the state by former Governor, Rotimi Amaechi.
â€œWe have a suspicion and our suspicion is coming through this direction: the Rivers State government had forwarded a petition claiming the loss of over $700 million allegedly taken by the former governor of the state, and we prayed the Senate to do something about it at that time, but it became too political,â€ he said.
He called on the Osinbajo committee to unravel the real owner of Flat 7B, where the money was found.
Adding some drama to his presentation, Sekibo blew a whistle in the chamber.
â€œThat was a whistle that the state government blew at the time. We are coming back to say that money found in that 7b – we have done our interim investigation by the state government, and we are blowing the whistle the second time. We trust the capacity of the vice-president as the chairman of the investigative team. And on behalf of my constituents, I am blowing the whistle a second time,â€ he said and blewÂ the whistle three times.
Abe, while reacting in an interview with journalists, said Sekibo should provide the panel with facts to prove his whistle blowing stunt at the Senate.
â€œWith the information that Senator Sekibo said he has now, it would be appropriate for the panel headed by the vice president to invite him to present his fact. I urge Sekibo having blown the whistle in the Senate, he should take the whistle to the panel and blow it there, just as he did in the Senate,â€ he said.
He added that a serious issue was being reduced to a political witch hunt.
Abe noted that while Nigerians should be appreciative of whistle blowers who have presented facts that have led to recoveries of monies that may have been stolen, there should be consequences for false whistle blowing.
â€œThere must be consequences for false whistle blowing when you do not have facts, because falsely blowing whistle leads to trauma for the families of those involved. When your political opponents blow whistle in your direction, then you deal with trauma,â€ he said.
He cited the case of the raid on the home of the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje.
â€œAs a consequence of false whistle blowing, budget documents are said to have disappeared and the committee has come out to say it was affected by the raid in Gojeâ€™s property,â€ Abe added.