Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers, says officials of the state government will appear before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) only if the anti-graft agency follows the rule of law.
The EFCC had invited and quizzed Peter Amangbo, managing director of Zenith Bank, over alleged N117 billion transaction by the state government in the past three years.
The anti-graft agency is also seeking to quiz four officials of the state who were central to the withdrawals.
Speaking at the state government house in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, Wike said the EFCC is “full of impunity”.
“I am not interested whether EFCC backs off or not. I am not against the EFCC fighting corruption, if at all they are fighting corruption. My concern is we must do it according to the law,” he said.
“The law says that we have a federation comprising the federal government, the states and the LGAs. We go to the monthly federal allocation when money comes to the federation and all tiers take their share. The federal government is now saying that the money that comes to states will be monitored.
“I was not here in 2007. Rivers state government went to court against the EFCC to say the commission has no constitutional power to interrogate the finances, the expenses of the state government. And the matter was adequately addressed and judgment was given against EFCC.
“Since 2007, EFCC has been struggling to appeal the judgment. EFCC has not succeeded up till now. What they are doing now is when they feel a government is not pro-Buhari, ‘let’s do this’.”
He wondered why the EFCC was allowed to freeze the accounts of Benue and Akwa Ibom state governments, insisting that the agency is being used as a tool by the federal government to fight opposition.
“Nobody will appear before the EFCC until they follow the rule of law. This country must not allow personal interest of individuals. That is a coup against the interest of Nigeria,” he said.
WHY IS EFCC PROBING RIVERS GOVERNMENT?
An EFCC detective had narrated how the alleged withdrawals were made by officials of the state government.
“The bulk of the money was collected by one official over the counter with as many as 45 to 50 cheques issued in one day,” he had said.
“The records retrieved showed that on June 8, 2015, about N450 million was cashed over the counter through 45 cheques with each cheque worth N10 million,” he said.
“The same thing was done on June 9, 2015 when N500 million was cashed in bits of N10 million. There is no record of what the cash was used for.”