Sunday, 16 April 2017

Mystery $43.4m : Buhari directs AGF to step in … As Amaechi fires back at Wike

President Muhammadu Buhari has stepped into the controversial issue of the $43.4million recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from an Ikoyi apartment, Lagos last week, it was gathered last night.
Buhari, according to high level sources, directed the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN) to get status reports on the money from the EFCC and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) which is claiming ownership of the cash. The AGF subsequently invited both agencies to brief him on the situation. He now has all the details, sources said.
Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Director General Dakuku Peterside charged back yesterday at Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, for saying the seized $43million was money stolen from the state by Amaechi. Amaechi, the immediate past governor of the state, denied ownership of the money and the Ikoyi, Lagos apartment from where the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recovered the suspected loot on Wednesday.
He labelled Wike’s allegation as the latest in the long list of “blatant lies with no proof, same old concocted stories of corruption allegations against Amaechi told with different flavours.”
He called the Governor a rabble rouser, and his allegations false, malicious, despicable, irresponsible, reckless, disgraceful and diversionary. It was learnt that AGF Malami may explain the cash status to Nigerians after clearance from Buhari with a view to laying the controversy to rest. The government is said to be worried that comments coming from Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers) and Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti) are capable of complicating the matter.
Investigation showed that the President on Thursday asked Malami to get status reports from the EFCC and NIA on the controversial sack. A source familiar with the development said: “What many Nigerians do not know is that the President is a man of due process and he does not rush to judgment.
“Although he got to know of EFCC operation in the media, the Director-General of NIA, Amb. Ayo Oke personally briefed him on Thursday morning at his residence in the presence of the AGF and a few others (names withheld). “At the session, the President raised some issues on staff houses and the cash which the NIA DG clarified. And on the spot, the President gave an order that the cash be kept in the Central Bank (CBN).
“He also directed that the AGF should get official brief from NIA and EFCC. The Minister supervises EFCC and the President asked him to examine the circumstances surrounding the recovery and come up with a report. “Malami has received reports/ brief from the two agencies and will report back to the President before making an official declaration on the status of the money.”
The source said that the NIA DG, who had manned sensitive missions abroad in the past , left the President’s residence to brief Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the National Security Adviser, Gen. Babagana Monguno, who also met with the Acting Chairman of EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu for status report.
The NIA boss later had audience with the DG of DSS, Alhaji Lawan Daura to brief him accordingly. “In all this, a major challenge surrounding the $43.4m was lack of synergy among security and intelligence agencies,” the source said. Another source said the government was prepared to give Nigerians a comprehensive briefing to clear all grey areas. It was learnt that the government was concerned that comments by Governors Wike and Fayose have complicated the controversy surrounding the cash. The second source said: “The Buhari administration has nothing to hide at all. The AGF will soon speak on the status of the cash. “Some governors have taken advantage of constitutional immunity to make claims which have complicated the recovery by EFCC. But in his transparent manner, Buhari has directed that the nation must be fully briefed.
“This process took a little long because NIA is involved. It is both a national and an international security agency and the government needs to be careful in handling any sensitive matter involving NIA. And for the NIA DG, he is well respected in the international community. He actually worked closely with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo as a desk officer at the Nigerian High Commission in the UK to recover Abacha loot.” The EFCC responding on Twitter last night to questions on how it was handling the issue merely said: “We are; even as you read this tweet. Ignore speculation. The Nigerian people deserve the truth and they will have it in due time.” Amaechi, Peterside reply Wike
Amaechi’s political ally and governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State in the last election, Peterside joined the fray, branding Wike’s allegations against the minister as a joke taken too far. “I think we need to check the sanity and mental status of Governor Wike,” he told reporters in Port Harcourt yesterday. He added: “Time and time again, he is bringing ridicule to the office he occupies and embarrassing the people of Rivers State who are known to be intelligent, responsible and decent in upbringing.”
The Governor moved a step further yesterday on the issue by accusing the federal government of trying to cover up the matter. He said no amount of insults and propaganda would stop him from seeking the return of the money to the people of the state. Amaechi’s media office,in a formal reaction to Wike’s allegations said:”Wike has stolen Rivers State dry. Wike and his gang have frittered billions and billions of Naira of Rivers people money away.
“Rivers State is perpetually in crisis, the state in a mess as Wike has made a total mess of governance in the State. That child who sits there as governor is confused, he doesn’t know what to do. Wike’s only solution is to attack Amaechi.
“Since he became governor, Wike sleeps and wakes up every day, with a sole, one-point agenda to attack and denigrate Amaechi, no matter how ridiculous and silly he sounds. Every day in Rivers State, there is one frivolous, false story of what Amaechi did or didn’t do. Same pattern, the same blatant lies with no proof, same old concocted stories of corruption allegations against Amaechi told with different flavours. At this rate, if Wike is unable to perform his spousal duties, he will blame it on Amaechi. Yes, that’s how despicably low he can go in his consuming fixation to throw mud at Amaechi.
“This latest outburst by Wike is typical of him. We are aware that Wike first tried to float the fake news of Amaechi’s ownership of the recovered $43million and the Ikoyi house in the social media using his minions and lackeys, spending huge sums of Rivers money on the failed project.
“His minions and lackeys were calling journalists, bloggers and media organizations to run the fake story with promises of almost irresistible mouth-watering compensation for using the fake story. When that failed and the story didn’t gain traction that was when Wike decided to hurriedly hold the press conference Friday night, to rant and spew his outright lies, yet again without providing any proof of Amaechi’s ownership of both the property and the money.”
“For clarity and emphasis, Amaechi is not the owner of the $43million and the Ikoyi apartment in which the money was recovered from. Amaechi has no business, link or connection to the money or property. Amaechi does not know who owns the money or Ikoyi apartment.” “Wike’s malicious allegation of corruption against Amaechi in the sale of the Gas Turbines is not new. This false claim has been punctured repeatedly with facts and evidence of the transfer payments for the power plants into Rivers State government accounts by Sahara Energy. “The records of how the funds were spent and what it was spent on are in the records of the State government. Amaechi has absolutely no business or any interest whatsoever in Sahara Energy. The company was already a thriving business concern before Amaechi’s emergence as governor of Rivers State in 2007.
“We urge all right-thinking members of the public to completely disregard all the false, politically motivated no-proof claims by Nyesom Wike and his minions as it concerns Amaechi and the $43million and Ikoyi property. “The false accusation by Wike is purely diversionary, a political smear campaign against Amaechi by Wike, while he steals Rivers State blind. “The fake claim is a figment of the imagination of Nyesom Wike, an ignoble fellow who’s so reckless, irresponsible, and disgraceful, and has debased the high office he holds in trust for the people.
“Wike is a rabble-rouser and should not be taken seriously. He has made several false claims like this in the recent past and never went the whole length to prove it because he had no proof. Many would recall how Wike was screaming all over national television stations just before the Rivers State legislative Rerun elections that he had an explosive video, containing earth-shaking revelations and he would show the video on national TV. Till date, no video, just talk talk and talk, telling more and more lies.” “Yet again, we challenge Wike to charge Amaechi to court if he has any shred of evidence that the money belongs to Rivers State and was kept in the Ikoyi apartment by Amaechi. But like his numerous frivolous accusations in the past, we know he won’t go to court. He has nothing to substantiate his blatant lies.
“This Wike’s recent tale like his previous ones is a big sham, a disgraceful political drama, and a campaign of calumny to defame and destroy the sterling reputation of Rotimi Amaechi. This is now Wike’s sole life ambition.” “Finally, we want Nigerians to note that Wike’s reckless, irresponsible and fictitious tirade against the President Buhari administration at his media briefing of Friday is a declaration of war against the Federal Government. This has been his regular past time in recent times, making false allegations against the Federal government and threatening the President Buhari administration with fire and brimstone.” And Peterside, speaking in Port Harcourt, wondered why Wike relishes to be constantly in the news for the wrong reasons. His words: “Not too long ago, Wike apparently suffering from overdose of self delusion said he had awarded road projects in far away Benue state and had mobilised contractors to site.
“The same Wike has also accused the Inspector-General of Police of plotting to assassinate him through the new CP in Rivers State. “We thought these were jokes taken too far. But the clownish governor has surprised himself with another tales by moonlight in trying to link his former boss and benefactor to the unclaimed money.
“I think we need to check the sanity and mental status of Governor Wike. Time and time again, he is bringing ridicule to the office he occupies and embarrassing the people of Rivers State who are known to be intelligent, responsible and decent in upbringing.” He challenged the Rivers state government to provide evidence to the contrary.
Peterside, who was commissioner for works under Amaechi, said that the money realized from sale of gas turbines were paid into the account of Rivers state and the money used for projects. “While Wike can never come near the record of Amaechi, the current governor is doing everything to reverse the unmatchable records of his predecessor,” he said.
“As of today, no one has seen copies of 2016 and 2017 budgets of Rivers state. Schools and health centres are shutting down with thousands of school age children out of school. Rivers children on scholarship abroad have been withdrawn. The same governor has wasted Rivers money to host two failed conventions of a sinking PDP. His party chairman has accused him of using $6m to influence judicial officers. “Wike has the unenviable record of governing a state having the most state-linked killings in Rivers history.
“It is people like Wike who have made Nigerians to call to question the issue of immunity in the constitution. He is taking immunity as shield to abuse the dignity of the office of Governor. “The governor can still retrace his steps and follow the path of dignity, decorum and respect the office he occupies for he holds it in trust on behalf of Rivers people.”
Wike had told reporters during his own press conference on Friday night that the recovered money was public fund allegedly stolen by Amaechi when he was governor of the state. He gave the federal authorities a seven day ultimatum to return the money to the state. He said with that money, he would be able to complete the monorail project initiated by the Amaechi administration but now abandoned by him (Wike).
He added: “We said we don’t want to talk until we investigate properly. We want the Federal government to set up a commission of inquiry if they doubt that the money does not belong to Rivers people. And we will appear before it to explain why we said the money belongs to Rivers people.” He went a step further yesterday when he briefed “If you look at this state you will see a lot of projects going on. If I get such amount of money I will use it for projects. And the people of Rivers state will confirm it. I want to tell you that if they return that money I will complete the monorail project.” Wike briefs Christian leaders, says FG wants to cover up Amaechi Yesterday, the governor briefed Rivers Christian Leaders on the development at the Government House, Port Harcourt, where he accused the federal government of trying to protect Amaechi.
He demanded the return of the money to the people of Rivers State, saying: “The Federal Government wants us to believe that a security agency will keep a whopping N 16billion in a private residence in cash. “They think that Nigerians don’t have brains. When millions of dollars were found in Kaduna, the EFCC was quick to announce the owner of that money. Now they don’t know the whistle blower in the case of the Ikoyi billions and they are afraid to disclose the owner of the money. “I am not interested in the prosecution of our son, the former governor, Amaechi. We are just interested in the return of Rivers money. God has caught them.
“If the Federal Government does not leave Rivers State alone, it will never be well with them”. He urged Christian clerics in Rivers State to continue to pray for the administration to have sleepless nights until they effect the refund. Governor Wike informed that the legal team of the State has been briefed and they are ready to commence action. “They are covering corruption because a key player of the administration is involved. This is not a rumour. They know that the money belongs to Amaechi.”
Speaking earlier, the APC Publicity Secretary in the state, Mr. Chris Finebone said the governor merely wanted to divert public attention with “his unnecessary allegations without verification.”
He said it was all aimed at deflecting attention from claims by PDP factional leader, Senator Alli Modu Sheriff, that the Rivers governor disbursed $5 million bribe to some judges through unnamed fronts and another $1 million to lawyers defending the Ahmed Markafi’s caretaker committee at the Supreme Court, all monies belonging to Rivers state.
It noted that Wike was stunned by the surprised revelation by Sheriff, hence the need to create a façade to deflect attention from the fraud, anxiety and worry the people of Rivers state were now expressing about the opaque handling of the state’s resources by the governor, who has refused to make public the state’s budget for the second year running, since assuming.
He said: “We believe that the stunning revelations in financial misappropriation of resources of Rivers State by Senator Sheriff gave rise to Wike’s present wild allegations to divert attention from the mess he has found himself in.
“Rivers APC will not dignify Wike’s inexplicably timid suggestion that former Governor of Rivers State, Amaechi, now the Minister of Transportation, has anything to do with the Osborne Road house or the money allegedly found there. The Honourable Minister has already addressed the matter and we believe that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and government of Lagos State will not find it difficult to ascertain the owner of the property and consequently the money.
“Very troubling to Rivers people is what appears to be the governor’s total loss of logical reasoning as depicted by his penchant to speak before he thinks. Indeed, Wike’s situation on this score is proving to be worse than we earlier thought and further worsened by the wild and outlandish statements that have been coming from him to foul media space. He leaves many shocked at the degenerate slide in the governor’s overall cognitive health. “The Federal Government cannot escape blame for either making light or ignoring Wike and his errant antics and utterances. Ignoring the governor’s mischief is not the best option in dealing with this evil genius of a governor. If his previous utterances, especially his allegation of assassination attempts he made against the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, had been investigated, he would have had a second thought making further wild allegations every now and then to divert attention from himself.
“The insult of issuing a 7-day ultimatum to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, smacks of daring the Buhari’s government to a wrestling match. Will the Federal Government continue to watch Wike carry on as if no other superior authority exists in Nigeria? “APC calls on the IGP, the Attorney-General of the Federation and other relevant investigative agencies to diligently investigate accusations by Wike, to establish their veracity or otherwise. We call on the federal authorities to invite and interrogate the Commissioner of Communications and Information, the Accountant-General and the Commissioner of Finance of the state to help the security agencies unravel the spate of outlandish allegations by Wike.”

No comments:

Post a Comment