Report gathered that President Muhammadu Buhari dumped the immediate past governor of Rivers state, Rotimi Amaechi as his chief of staff over the mind boggling allegations of fraud, embezzlement and money laundering brought against him before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
A highly placed security source at the weekend confided that Buhari was being careful because of the series of petition against the embattled Director General of Buhari/ Osinbajo Campaign Organisation. The source added that the President had recently advised the former governor to go and clear his name with the anti-graft agency, before he will attend to him.
According to the source, “what finished Ameachi was the recent letter from the EFCC that requested the Rivers State Government to send to the commission detailed financial transactions during the tenure of former governor Amaechi. The letter may also have been copied to the president too,” the source said stressing the sheer weight of the allegations was hard to ignore.
The investigation is sequel to a petition by The Integrity Group, a Port Harcourt-based good governance association, which on 29th July, 2015, wrote to the EFCC, detailing three instances of alleged corruption, graft and abuse of office under Amaechi’s government.
In the petition, The Integrity 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 the same address in Trans Amadi, Port Harcourt. The petitioners alleged that the transfers, made in US Dollars, occurred within a space of one week, between 1st December 2014, and 8th December, 2014.
The Integrity Group also alleged that the proposed Karibi Whyte Specialist Hospital Port Harcourt was a failed contract, which cost Rivers 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, who were 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 5 per cent administrative cost, as prescribed by law. The consultants are said to have collected over N1.5 billion in fees within weeks of their being engaged by Amaechi’s government.
In three separate letters headlined, “Investigation Activities,” and dated 13th August, 2015, the EFCC swung into a detailed probe of Amaechi’s dealings as alleged by the petitioners. All three letters by the EFCC were signed by Olufunke Adetayo-Ogunbode, Head, Economic Governance. Two of the letters were addressed to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Port Harcourt, in respect of the sale of the state power projects as well as Clinoriv Specialist Hospital and Leisure Limited, which was engaged to construct the still-born Karibi Whyte Specialist Hospital.
One of the EFCC letters to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, states 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: (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.”
In respect of the Karibi Whyte Specialist Hospital, the EFCC is also requesting the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, to furnish the following:
(i) Memorandum of Understanding with Clinoriv Specialist Hospital and 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.”
On the tax consultancy allegation, the EFCC has asked the Accountant General of Rivers State to supply the anti-graft agency the following information:
(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.”
Each of the three letters contains a paragraph indicating that the request for the specific information in the on-going investigation of the allegations against Amaechi’s government is “made pursuant to Section 38 (1) and (2) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004.
President Buhari immediately after his inauguration on May 29, 2015 had vowed that no corrupt public office holder will make list of his cabinet.
Amaechi had been one of President Muhammadu Buhari campaign financiers who also doubles as the Director General of the campaign organisation in the just concluded general elections.