The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has hinted that he still awaits the summon of the Federal Government’s panel set up to investigate the ownership of a sum of 13 billion Naira found in an apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos State.
The Governor had claimed that the fund, which has now been forfeited to the Federal Government, belonged to Rivers State.
In an exclusive interview with Channels TV on Tuesday, Wike said although the court had ordered a final forfeiture to the government, no judgement was final.
“Let the panel release the report of their findings on the money. We have claimed ownership of the money and it is only right for us to be given a fair hearing.
“We have facts to prove that the money belongs to the River State Government. No judgment can be a final.”
Also speaking on the Paris Club Refund, he reiterated that he only received 17 billion as opposed to the 34 billion Naira which the All Progressives Congress in the state had claimed he received.
“How do I sign to receive money, I don’t attend their allocation committee meetings. I do know that we signed a document of the Federal Government owing us a certain amount of money, over 400 million dollars that should be refunded to Rivers State, so if that is the document they said I signed, Yes I signed that they are owing us not less than 460 million dollars.”
The Governor further explained that the Federal Government had said “it would pay 50/50 and when it got to the 50 per cent, they said they were going to pay 25 per cent of the 50 per cent and it took them time before they even gathered the 25 per cent of the 50.
“Now they are saying again that even the other 25 per cent that has not been paid, they are going to pay us in three tranches.”
According to him, he had received a circular on Monday (June 19) notifying him that there would be another meeting as regards the Paris Club Refund.
The Governor also stressed that when the Federal Government gives money, it is not a thing to be kept secret.
He stated an instance in the past when according to him, each state was given a bail out of about 10 billion Naira but Rivers was excluded meanwhile, the state account was still being deducted.
“I had to write to Mr President. How can they be deducting my money when I was not given any money? They were shocked and it was later rectified but it took some time.”
Speaking of the Rivers at 50 celebrations, he said it was indeed a thing of joy that the state had stayed strong and there had been no problems of indigenes threatening to pull out because of marginalisation.
“I would say I am very lucky that I became governor at a time the state became 50.”
He said it was also an opportunity to showcase the state to investors and tourists, as many visitors came from outside the country and so many ambassadors were present.
With the celebrations and all activities put in place, Wike expressed hopes that in the next few years, the state would get investments of not less than 300 million Dollars.
Addressing the issue of the former Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, who rejected an award given to him by the state, Wike explained that it did not in any way have a blight on the celebrations.
According to him, Amaechi was, in fact, criticised by many over his attitude. The governor further explained that the law on the awards started during former Governor Peter Odili’s administration which is why every other administration has adhered to it till date.
“It was when Dr. Peter Odili was governor that the law was passed in the year 2000. He had that foresight and made sure that this bill was passed into law. In that law, it states that every former governor of the state, be it military or civilian, is entitled to such category of award.
“If we had amended the law, it would look as if we are trying to witch-hunt somebody. Naturally, there is no way the state would have agreed to give such an award but because the law says as a former governor, he is entitled, that is why his name was shortlisted.
“For us, the Golden Jubilee should be an opportunity for reconciliation not just because of your honour, but now we will amend the law, for future,” Wike added.
According to him, the awards would no longer be given merely on the basis of being a past governor but on grounds that they are cleared from any form of indictment.
Credit Channels TV
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