By Doris Obinna
THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has commenced a probe of immediate past governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi, based on a petition from a Port Harcourt-based group, The Integrity Group.
The commission will beam its searchlight on some of Amaechi’s projects executed while in office.
Acting on a July 29 petition, the EFCC has already written to the Permanent Secretary of the state’s Ministry of Finance and the Accountant General to furnish it with details on the projects being investigated.
The group’s petition alleged that the state’s electric power projects were sold and proceeds converted to other uses, adding that about N60 billion, being proceed from the sale of the power projects was paid to three companies in Port Harcourt. It alleged that the transfer of the funds was done within one week, between December 1, 2014 and December 8, 2014.
The group equally alleged in the petition that the proposed Karibi Whyte Specialist Hospital, Port Harcourt, had cost Rivers State about N4.63 billion but failed.
Also, The Integrity Group accused Amaechi of appointing a firm of tax consultants, that was allegedly collecting 12 per cent of taxes collected, on a much lower monthly collection target of N2.5 billion, as against the five per cent administrative cost enjoyed by Rivers State Internal Revenue Service, in accordance with the law.
It said the state’s revenue service was generating about N7.5 billion revenue before the tax consultants came in.
While reacting to the petitions, in three letters, dated August 31, 2015, the EFCC asked the Ministry of Finance and Accountant General of the state to furnish it with details of the projects the petitioners complained about.
Signed by Olufunke Adetayo-Ogunbode, Head, Economic Governance, the EFCC asked the Permanent Secretary, to explain certain things relating to the sale of the state power projects and Karibi Whyte Specialist Hospital, which was handled by Clinoriv Specialist Hospital and Leisure Limited.
The EFCC letters to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, on the sale of the power projects, entitled: “Investigation activities: Sale of state power projects,” stated: “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: (i) Details of all the assets sold to the NG Power-HPS Limited
(ii) Total amount received and the account it was paid into
(iii) Sales agreement/ memorandum of understanding,
(iv) House of Assembly resolution/approval,
(v) Investments made from the proceeds if any,
(vi) Documents indicating due process and
(vii) Any other information that will assist the Commission in its investigation.”
On the Karibi Whyte Specialist Hospital, the EFCC, in the letter, requested the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, to furnish the following:
(i) Memorandum of Understanding with Clinoriv Specialist Hospitaland Leisure Limited,
(ii) Evidence of due process in the award of the contract,
(iii) Executive Council resolution/approval,
(iv) Total sum allocated for the project
(v) Account number and bank where the funds were paid
(vi) Status of the contract awarded to the company
(vii) Payment certificates issued/valuation reports
(viii) Contract award documents and (ix) Any other information that will assist the Commission in its investigation.”
Also, the letter written to the Accountant General of Rivers State, on the tax consultancy allegation, entitled: “Investigation Activities: Messrs Collect Nigeria Limited,” the EFCC demanded the following:
(i) Details of internally generated revenue between 2007 to date,
(ii) Evidence of disbursement and 5 per cent retained within the period,
(iii) The MoU between the State Government and Messrs Collect Nig. Ltd
(iv) Details of due process in the award of the contract
(v) Details of payment made to Messrs Collect Nig. Ltd
(vi) House of Assembly resolution/approval
(vii) State Executives (that is, State Executive Council) resolution/approval and (viii) Any other information that will assist the Commission in its investigation.”
In the three letters, the EFCC stated that its demands for explanation were “made pursuant to Section 38 (1) and (2) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004.”
As at the time of going to press, it could not be ascertained whether the Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Finance and the Accountant General had responded to EFCC letters.