Rivers State Governor Chief Nyesom Wike said state leaders would meet to decide whether to bring criminal charges against former Transport Minister Chibuike Amaechi for the alleged fraudulent sales of certain valuable state assets and embezzlement of public funds.
The governor said those whose fate would also be decided at the meeting would include Tonye Cole, Sahara Energy Ltd, and Rivers’ former state transport commissioner, George Tolofari.
Wike, who gave the indication at a media conference attended by Rivers alumni in Abuja last Friday, said the Supreme Court ruling which dismissed Amaechi’s appeal to quash the investigation on the activities of his administration, agreed with the government of Rivers State.
He explained that when he took office in 2015, the state government set up a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the activities of the former governor of Rivers State, the administration of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
The judicial panel was mandated to investigate the sale of the 150 MW gas turbine to Omoku; 360 MW Afam gas turbine; 136 MW Trans-Amadi gas turbine; and 75 MW gas turbine at Eleme; monorail project; the sale of the Olympia Hotel; and the non-performance of the contract to build the Justice Karibi-Whyte hospital after the Amaechi administration paid the contractor $39.2 million.
Wike said the judicial panel at the end of its investigation submitted its report and recommendations to the state government.
According to him, this compelled the state government to write a report on the white paper.
“So many people were indicted by this report, and therefore, we did not go to court to file charges against those who were indicted because some people went to court, especially the former governor, Rotimi Amaechi. And as those who obey the rule of law and have respect for the court, we said we wouldn’t go any further until the court decides.
“In the State High Court, the Rivers State government won. The former governor went to the Court of Appeals, the Rivers State government won. And then he appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn the recommendations of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry and the government’s White Paper.
“For the glory of God, the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed his appeal against the Judicial Commission of Inquiry report and the government’s white paper report.”
Wike said the state government was vindicated by the Supreme Court judgment because those charged by the Judicial Inquiry Commission were given an opportunity to defend themselves, but some of them chose not to. not appear before the commission.
“If you see this report, as a man from Rivers, you are going to cry. No one who loves Rivers State will see this report and cry. Now that the Supreme Court has rendered its judgment, state leaders will decide what to do next. It’s not just for me. Yes, I am governor, I can’t do it alone. If state leaders say we have to sue them, I have no choice.
He further added, “The money that has been raised by Sahara Energy Ltd and Tonye Cole, it is up to the leaders of the state to say, ‘should we go ahead and file charges against Rotimi Amaechi and his sidekicks, or should we allow him to be. This is for state elders. The state elders will meet and agree on what to do next. But the thing is, the world knows that no one will see this report and be angry.
The Governor of Rivers State recounted how the sum of $50 million was diverted from the state account and given to Sahara Energy Ltd for an inexplicable reason.
According to him, there was no evidence of a transaction indicating that the state was indebted to the company.
“What has Sahara Energy done for us? What is the transaction for which we paid 50 million dollars? You said that Sahara Energy bought our gas turbines, if they bought our gas turbines, why are we paying them 50 million dollars? Did we borrow money from them? Where is the agreement to show that we borrowed money from them? Nothing!
“People will come out and start chanting ‘we are innocent.’ they decide today to initiate criminal proceedings, I have no choice but to order the Ministry of Justice to press charges against Rotimi Amaechi, Sahara Energy and Tonye Cole.
The governor said that due to the corruption allegation against Amaechi, he was not supposed to be cleared by the Senate to become a minister, but the federal government led by the All Progressives Congress (APC) convinced legislators to gloss over the issue.
In his remarks, the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi-Awaji Ibani, said the Supreme Court judgment was a victory for the government and people of Rivers State.
He instructed those who had the responsibility of overseeing public funds to always keep in mind that the funds belonged to the people.
Likewise, the former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Onueze CJ Okocha (SAN), praised the governor for always defending the interests of the state.
He said state leaders will make a decision and provide honest advice to the governor on the way forward.