Senators And Rivers’ Stakeholders Demand Rotimi Amaechi’s Withdrawal From President Muhammadu Buhari’s Ministers While Asking The President To Practise His Corruption Sermons
Barely 24 hour, after the Senate made public President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial list consisting of 21 names, senators representing Rivers State, and other stakeholders, have rejected the nomination, and, or appointment of immediate past governor of the state, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
This is even as they challenged President Buhari to put into practice, his sermons about fighting corruption, by ensuring that no one was made a sacred cow.
The senators and stakeholders also demanded Amaechi’s withdrawal on the grounds of alleged corruption, criminal breach of trust, unlawful enrichment and conversion of over N70 billion of Rivers’ people’s money by the former Governor of Rivers State.
Their demands were contained in a three-point petition from The Integrity Group, which was signed by the Media/Publicity Director, Livingstone Wechie, and presented before the Senatein-Plenary yesterday by Senator
George Sekibo on behalf of the Rivers State senators. “May we firstly commend your determination and resolutions to fight corruption at all levels and ensure that all corrupt persons are not only brought to justice, but loot recovered from them, particularly as being the beacon and symbol of democracy and representatives of the people.
“It is indeed in view of the foregoing that we have become most disturbed about strong speculations as reported on various national media both print and electronic indicating that the name of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi is included in the ministerial list sent to the Nigerian Senate President and the Senate for confirmation as minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” it read in part.
The petition argued that it would be “a grave betrayal of trust and a circumvention of the investigation of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, who is currently being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over an earlier petition from the Group”.
The group’s allegations include: alleged fraudulent sale of state power projects and conversion of proceeds amounting to N60,480,000,000.00; unlawful payment to and fraudulent conversion of N4,633,440.00 Carniriv Specialist Hospital and Leisure Limited; and unlawful enrichment of Messrs Collect Nigeria Limited with public funds to the tune on N1,555,895,698.00.
“Whilst we welcome the appointment of a Rivers son to the position of minister based on the federal character principle of our constitution, we insist that Rivers State should be represented not by a corrupt person, but a more notable and deserving son from the State with the interest of the State at heart.
“We, therefore, on these grounds, demand the withdrawal and rejection of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, and further demand the Senate should rather ensure his committal to investigation and prosecution so he can rightfully defend himself and clear his name to avoid this impending betrayal of trust against the people of Rivers State; it added.
Addressing Senate correspondents moments after the plenary, Sen. Sekibo said President Buhari would not have hurriedly nominated Amaechi to be a minister, if he (Buhari) had seen the petition.
“Amaechi is qualified to be a minister; but when issues of corruption and fraud are openly X-rayed by people, it is necessary for Mr. President to take a critical look and examine the allegations from these people whether they are true or not.
“Mr. President is preaching about corruption, we applaud him for the corruption fight he is waging against whoever. So, if you are fighting against corruption, then, there must not be any sacred cow. No matter how close a person is to you, if there are allegations about him, you must spend time to critically look at them whether there is truth about the allegations that have been so submitted.
“The Integrity Group went into a research, and discovered that over N70 billion (was) transferred from hard currency account to places outside the country. And a petition on this note was written to Mr. President. I believe the President has not read it. If he has read it, he may not hurriedly nominate Rotimi Amaechi to be a minister”, Sekibo said.
Sekibo argued that since the letters that were sent to the presidency were not delivered, the President would be able to hear some of the allegations in the petition through this process, and perhaps, have a rethink.
“I am informed that this petition was forwarded to EFCC a month or two ago, and I am also informed that the EFCC is also commencing to carry out investigation. So, why not allow this period to go over and allow them to do their investigation and come out with the result?
“It may be mere allegation; but assuming they are true, now as a serving minister with a very big portfolio and EFCC is investigating you, can they get the result of what they are looking for? They will not get it.
“We are not stopping Mr. President from appointing a Rivers man to be a minister; we will welcome it. There are many APC members, who were not indicted or accused of such similar issues. So, we have not seen the haste in pushing Amaechi to be a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“On the other hand, the Rivers State Government set up a judicial panel of inquiry to investigate on the sales of state government-owned properties. Former Governor Amaechi refused to appear to defend himself. Now, what does it mean? If you are accused of something, and then you refused to appear, it means you know something about it.
“Maybe, the letters that were sent to the presidency were not delivered. We
are sure that through this process, he would be able to hear some of the allegations in the petition and perhaps, have a rethink.
“The Rivers people will be very happy. We are not victimizing anybody. We will not victimize any other nominee from Rivers State apart from Amaechi, who had been so indicted by this tag on him should not be presented. The people of the state are crying, and it’s like there is no help from anywhere. It should not be so.
“I presented the petition on behalf of the senators from Rivers State. Also included with the petition to the President was a documentary of how proceeds from Rivers State Government-owned account were disbursed from one source to another, was also communicated to Mr. President.
“The Integrity Group had gone a step further by publishing the contents of the petition in some national dailies. As a state, if our funds are mismanaged, it’s our duty to recover those funds and bring them back to the coffers. If the President finds out that a minister had mismanaged funds domiciled under his ministry, and then, he is being called to account for the money, but refused to come, what will happen?
“Perhaps the President has higher powers, the minister could be arrested. It is not the case with a former governor. Some people will see it as a case of witch-hunt. So, the only one, who can intervene in the matter is the President and perhaps, the anti fraud related agencies,” Sekibo added
– Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja