EFCC Clash With Rivers State Government Over Attempted Probe

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EFCC Clash with Rivers State Government Over Attempted Probe

A storm is currently brewing between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Rivers State Government over EFCC’s intention to probe the finances of the Rivers State Government for the last three years of Governor Nyesom Wike’s administration.

The EFCC announced that it had commenced investigations into the withdrawal of N117 billion from the state coffers by the Rivers State Government House in the last three years.

The Rivers State Government however is blowing hot as it declared that none of its officials will appear before the EFCC because the investigation was a politically motivated one.

The EFCC announced that it would invite four key accounting staff of the Rivers State Government House for interrogation over the alleged withdrawals including a cashier and a Director attached to the office of the Rivers State Governor.

According to an EFCC source;

“In one fell swoop and precisely on June 8, 2015, a total of 45 different cheques in the amount of N10 million each amounting to N450 million were issued and cashed over the counter in the name of one person.

The following day, that is June 9, 2015, 50 different cheques amounting to N500 million were issued in the name of another person and withdrawn over the counter of the same bank in Port Harcourt and we believe strongly that this money was laundered.”

While the EFCC may be threatening to shine its torchlight on the finances of the Rivers State Government, there is a standing court injunction from the Federal High Court restraining the anti-graft agency from dabbling into the financial operations of the Rivers State Government.

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Reacting to the News, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State declared that no official of the state government would appear before EFCC over its politically-motivated investigations until the commission approaches the Court of Appeal to set aside the 2007 judgment barring the commission from investigating the state.

Wike made his stance on the matter known through a statement by the Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu who quoted his boss as saying the EFCC action was a “political witch hunt”.

“We are not afraid of their probe and they have no power to probe us. No government official will appear before the EFCC until they set aside the court judgment of Rivers State Government against them in 2007. We cannot be intimidated. They filed for leave to appeal the judgment at the Court of Appeal. Until they set aside the judgment, we will not come.” The Governor reiterated.

Governor Wike further pointed out that the media trial embarked upon by the EFCC would not affect his government because he was already aware of the move before it was announced.

We are aware of their tricks. They should not bother engaging in media trial because it will not work. This is mere political witch-hunt.

They must obey the rule of law. We have filed another action against the EFCC. Because they have been served, they are telling the press that they have started investigating Rivers State government. This media war by the EFCC will not work. We stand on the rule of law.” Governor Wike revealed further.

The Akwa Ibom state Government has also sued the EFCC to court for freezing the state accounts claiming the move has disrupted governance in the state. The agency also froze the state account of the Benue state government.

Governor Wike had alleged while reacting to the Freezing of the Akwa Ibom State account by the EFCC that the ultimate aim of the agency was the Rivers State Government. He further alleged that the Federal Government had directed the EFCC to carry out unconstitutional activities in order to ground the state.

According to the Rivers State Governor;

“There is no worse impunity than for the EFCC to shutdown a tier of government through the freezing of the accounts of two state governments. An agency of federal government has frozen the accounts of Akwa Ibom and Benue State governments. This is the worst coup against the constitution and the law-abiding people of those states.”

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