According to THISDAY, strong indications emerged Wednesday that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has commenced a detailed
investigation into some financial transactions during the tenure of the immediate past Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi.
[Image: Former Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi]
The investigation, THISDAY gathered, was based on a petition by a Port Harcourt-based group, The Integrity Group, which on July 29, wrote to the EFCC, detailing three instances of alleged corruption, graft and abuse of office under Amaechi’s government.
In the petition, the group alleged that Rivers State electric power projects were sold and the proceeds converted to other uses through payments amounting to N60 billion to three companies all located at Trans Amadi, Port Harcourt.
The petitioners alleged that the transfers, made in US dollars, occurred within a space of one week between December 1 and 8, 2014.
The Integrity Group also alleged that the proposed Karibi Whyte Specialist Hospital in Port Harcourt was a failed contract, which cost the state a whooping N4.63 billion in what the petitioners described as questionable circumstances.
In the third allegation in their petition to the EFCC, the group stated that Amaechi as governor, appointed a firm of tax consultants, which was given a relatively exorbitant fee of 12 per cent of taxes collected on a much lower monthly collection target of N2.5 billion, even as the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service was raking in about N7.5 billion monthly at five per cent administrative cost, as prescribed by law.
The consultants were said to have collected over N1.5 billion in fees within weeks of their being engaged by Amaechi’s government.
Responding to the petition, the EFCC in three separate letters titled, “Investigation Activities”, and dated August 13, 2015, swung into a detailed probe of Amaechi’s dealings as alleged by the petitioners.
All the three letters by the anti-graft commission exclusively obtained by THISDAY, were signed by the Head, Economic Governance, Olufunke Adetayo-Ogunbode.
While two of the letters with reference numbers CR: 30/EFCC/ABJ/EG/T4/Vol.26/386 and CR: 30/EFCC/ABJ/EG/T4/Vol.26/379, respectively were addressed to the Permanent Secretary, state Ministry of Finance, in respect of the sale of the state power projects as well as Clinoriv Specialist Hospital and Leisure Limited, which was engaged to have constructed the still-born Karibi Whyte Specialist Hospital, the third one with reference number CR: 30/EFCC/ABJ/EG/T4/Vol.26/380 was addressed to the state Accountant-General in respect of the activities of Messrs Collect Nigeria Limited on the collection of internally generated revenue (IGR) on behalf of the state.
One of the EFCC letters to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, read in part: “The commission is investigating a case of conspiracy, abuse of office and fraud. In view of the above, you are kindly requested to furnish the following: Details of all the assets sold to the NG Power-HPS Limited; total amount received and the account it was paid into; Sales Agreement/Memorandum of Understanding; House of Assembly resolution/approval; investments made from the proceeds if any; documents indicating due process; and any other information that will assist the commission in its investigation.”
In respect of the Karibi Whyte Specialist Hospital, the EFCC also requested the permanent secretary to furnish it with the following: MoU with Clinoriv Specialist Hospital and Leisure Limited; evidence of due process in the award of the contract; executive council resolution/approval; total sum allocated for the project; account number and bank where the funds were paid; status of the contract awarded to the company; payment certificates issued/valuation reports; contract award documents and; any other information that will assist the commission in its investigation.
On the tax consultancy allegation, the EFCC asked the state accountant-general to supply it with the following information: Details of internally generated revenue between 2007 to date; evidence of disbursement and five per cent retained within the period; the MoU between the state government and Messrs Collect Nigeria Limited; details of due process in the award of the contract; details of payment made to Messrs Collect Nig. Limited; House of Assembly resolution/approval; state executives (that is, State Executive Council) resolution/approval; and any other information that will assist the commission in its investigation.
The anti-graft commission concluded in each of the letters that the request for the specific information in the on-going investigation of the allegations against Amaechi’s government was “made pursuant to Section 38 (1) and (2) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004″.