Accuses former governor of blackmailing Supreme Court APC challenges
governor to provide proof of infractions
Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has declared that the state did not forge any documents to implicate the immediate past Governor of the state and Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, in allegations of corruption.
He said evidence of corruption against Amaechi were so overwhelming that the Minister of Transportation himself admitted to them publicly.
Recently, the Executive Director of the Integrity Group, a non-governmental organisation, Livingstone Wechie, who had in 2015 filed petitions against Amaechi to the National Assembly, recanted and accused Wike of forging documents to implicate the former governor.
But while addressing the 106th Quarterly Meeting of the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers in Port Harcourt yesterday, Wike said Amaechi admitted paying $39 million for a non-existent Justice Karibi Whyte Mega Specialist Hospital.
He added that the former governor confessed publicly that he sold the stateâ€™s gas turbines, which the immediate past administration diverted the funds.
Wike said: â€œAll the documents that proved Amaechiâ€™s corrupt acts are authentic. We never forged documents. The former governor himself admitted that he paid out $39 million to Clinotech, without a single block laid anywhere. Is that a document he claims was forged? Where is the Hospital?
â€œHe has agreed in different interviews that he sold the state gas turbines for $309 million. Convert United States $309 million to naira and you will understand the level of fraud. Amaechi left only $204,000 in the state account.
â€œThe bank statements of the pattern of withdrawals from that account are there for all to see. Can that be forged? The dates and amounts withdrawn are clearly writtenâ€.
The governor berated the minister of transportation for engaging in the blackmail of the Supreme Court because his appeal is pending before the apex court over the establishment of the Rivers State Judicial Commission of Inquiry.
â€œThere is no time that he loses a case without blackmailing the judiciary. He feels that the only way he can do it is to blackmail the Supreme Court. You cannot play politics with everything,â€ Wike said.
On the use of hotels for electoral fraud, the governor warned that any hotel that opens its facility for electoral fraud and malpractice would lose its operational certificate of occupancy.
He said: â€œAny hotel that is used to rig elections, that hotelâ€™s certificate of occupancy will be withdrawn. I will not accept all that anymore.â€
He regretted that the former governor has continued to work against the interest of the state, refusing to use his position as a minister to attract benefits to the people.
Speaking further, he warned traditional rulers against working with armed gangs to cause insecurity in their communities.
Earlier, the Chairman of the state Council of Traditional Rulers and Amayanabo of Opobo, King Dandeson Jaja commended the governor for the commencement of the reconstruction of 175 public schools across the state.
He appealed to the governor to set up a process to check the sale of illicit drugs in the state.
However, the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has challenged Wike to provide proof that Amaechi did not pay in proceeds from the sale of state assets into the state coffers or evidence of wrong-doing in the On Karibi-Whyte Hospital.
In a statement issued yesterday evening, the state Publicity Secretary of APC, Mr. Chris Finebone, challenged Wike to provide evidence that due process was not adhered to in the sale of state assets by Amaechi.
He said: â€œIt is really disturbing to hear a governor speak as if governments sell assets and spend the money outside of appropriation. Wike should provide proof that monies realised from sale of power plants were not paid into the coffers of Rivers State.
â€œThere is no doubt that the decision by Amaechi to approve sale of the power plants was in the best interest of Rivers people whose resources would have been further spent providing electricity for others. If it were possible, the road assets of the federal government totalling N105billion which the federal government refused to refund the state government should have been sold and the funds recovered for the people but it was not possible. So, let the present governor provide proof of diversion of funds and stop rabble rousing.
â€œOn Karibi-Whyte hospital as in all the other matters being bandied, let Governor Wike provide credible evidence of wrongdoing not the present forgeries, fabrications and outright white lies and propaganda that will easily surpass the ignoble efforts of Josef Goebbels.â€
Meanwhile, the gubernatorial candidate of the APC in the state and Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, has criticised the revocation of the certificate of occupancy of Novotel, describing the action as fascist.
Peterside, who described the action of Wike as worse traits of fascism, however, said he had forewarned Rivers people and the international community, saying â€œin 2015, I warned Rivers people, the international and business community that Wike should not be trusted to protect their investments and stakes.â€
He wondered how a state governor, who took an oath of office to uphold and respect the Nigerian Constitution â€œwithout fear or favourâ€ would revoke a document as crucial to property and business as Certificate of Occupancy without any impartial adjudication.
â€œWike had sworn to uphold the Nigerian Constitution without fear or favour and ill-will or malice against any citizen. It is now left to Wike and his conscience to check whether he has been faithful to his oath,â€ he stated.
According to Peterside, the revocation order is nothing but a reckless, irresponsible and draconian act that could have only come from the desk of a â€œfascist, despot and dictator.â€
Wike had in the wake of the violence that erupted at the non-elective congress of the APC which held last Saturday at the Novotel Hotel announced the revocation of the certificate of occupancy of the hotel, insisting that the hotel has become a centre for electoral fraud.
Factions of the party led by Amaechi and Senator Magnus Abe engaged each other in fisticuffs over who should be delegates to the partyâ€™s national congress. It took the efforts of the police command to restore order and stop the congress.