Court okays probe of Amaechi’s administration
• Ex-gov denies looting Rivers assets
Former Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has lost his suit challenging the constitution of the Justice Odedeji – led judicial commission of inquiry to probe the sale of Rivers State assets by his administration.
Delivering judgment on the suit yesterday, Justice Simeon Amadi of the Rivers State High Court declared that the judicial commission of inquiry was not established to investigate personal activities of the former governor, but previous actions of government as they affect the people of Rivers State.
He ruled that Governor Nyesom Wike, by the provisions of the law, was empowered to establish the commission of inquiry to investigate previous actions of government.
According to him, there is no law preventing a state government from finding out how her resources were expended. The judge declared that Amaechi cannot disburse and expend funds of the Rivers State government and turn around to claim that such powers belong to the National Assembly.
On the claim by the former governor that the 30-day set aside for sitting of the commission of Inquiry will deny him fair hearing, the court held that the days set aside have not breached Amaechi’s right to fair hearing.
The court noted that the former governor has not filed a memorandum before the commission and has not appeared before it, hence he cannot complain that he was not given fair hearing.
According to Justice Amadi, the 30- day period of sitting set aside for the commission is not sacrosanct, hence it could be extended. The court further held that the suit by Amaechi is speculative as he failed to prove the injuries that he has suffered because of the setting up of the commission of inquiry.
Justice Amadi held that contrary to Amaechi’s claims, the terms of reference of the commission did not accuse the former governor of crime, neither is the former governor on trial.
The judge declared: “The judiciary is not only the last hope of the common man, but it is also the last hope of the mighty and movers and shakers of democracy. “Those who by the benevolence of the judiciary got to power should resist the temptation to emasculate the judiciary.”
Commenting on the judgment, Rivers State Attorney General, Emmanuel Aguma, said the commission of inquiry can now sit, promising that it will be fair to all parties.
Counsel to Governor Wike said that the ruling of the court has proved that a claimant cannot jump to court to stop the legitimate business of a judicial commission of inquiry.
Amaechi’s lawyer, Mrs. Winifred Enyinnaya, said her client would appeal against the judgment. Wike, upon assumption of office, set up the commission to investigate the sale of key state assets by the previous administration.
But Amaechi approached the court to stop the inquiry. But irrespective of the dismal of his suit, state Amaechi has refuted claims by his successor (Wike) that he left an empty treasury.
Ameachi explained that Wike while trying to justify why he took a total of N30billion bank loans from two banks under 30 days in office, Wike had claimed that he met an empty treasury when he took over government.
However, Amaechi described this a lie as he had left billions of naira in cash and economic assets for Rivers State. Amaechi alleged that a total of N7.5billion cash was left behind as balances in the State Internally Generated Revenue(IGR) account with Skye Bank, FAAC account with Zenith Bank, balances with Access Bank and funds in the reserve fund account in First Bank.
He added: “This is besides other balances in the state Government House account with Zenith Bank and other government MDA accounts, like the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP).
By the time you pull all these together, we are looking at readily available cash in the region of eight to ten billion naira left for the Wike administration. “It’s also pertinent to point out here that former governor Amaechi also left economic assets worth tens of billions of naira for the State. Just like cash, the assets store value.
These assets that are scattered in diverse sectors of the economy were developed or built or procured with revenue that accrued to the state during Amaechi’s tenure.
The assets belong to Rivers State, not Amaechi. Some of these assets are presently yielding revenue to the state coffers, and many can be easily and readily converted to cash, if the State so desires.
It is therefore disingenuous and fraudulent for Wike to claim that Amaechi left an empty treasury in his bid to justify the N30billion loans he collected under 30 days in office.
Rather than this puerile and silly distraction of always pointing accusing fingers at Amaechi, Wike should come out to explain to Rivers people what he took the loans for, account for and justify every kobo that has been spent from the loans.”