FRAUD: Wike’s government and EFCC battle over N118b fraud claim

The Rivers State government and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC are reportedly in a battle of rights as Rivers state govt claims EFCC has no right to question how they operate with funds.

A report published by a national daily, titled; “How Rivers officials withdrew N118b in cash – EFCC”, had revealed details of an ongoing investigation by the EFCC.

According to the report, “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is requesting, for its interrogation, the release of three officials of the Rivers State Government, who are implicated in the alleged illegal withdrawal of N118billion public funds.

“Their action is said to be a contravention of the Money Laundering Act.

“The cash was allegedly withdrawn by the Director of Finance, Government House, Fubara Siminalayei, Tonye Uranta, and Harisonba Princewill over the counter in suspicious manner.

“One of the officials allegedly withdrew over N70billion in cash, about 129 times over a period of three years.

“It was gathered that the cash withdrawals were made between 2015 and 2018 with Siminalayei alone allegedly collecting over N70billion over the counter about 35 times in 2016 and 94 times in 2017.”

But claims in the report did not go down well with the Rivers State government, which in a swift reaction drew the attention of the EFCC to a Court injunction restraining any Federal government agency from investigating the financial activities of the State.

State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim in a statement said the EFCC should stop playing to the gallery and pursue its war against corruption within the ambits of the law.

He said there are those who want to use the EFCC to promote their political agenda in the State.

“The attention of the Rivers State Government has been drawn to a fresh wave of media trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

“The latest attempt contained in today’s edition( May 24,2020)of The Nation Newspaper alleged that the State Government has refused to release top officials for interrogation in connection to the withdrawal of N118 billion in cash between 2015 and 2018.

“We have repeatedly said that the State Government will not release its officials to the EFCC for investigations until the commission approaches the Court to set aside subsisting orders of perpetual injunction granted by various courts of competent jurisdiction restraining the EFCC from investigating or inquiring into the financial transactions of the Rivers State government, including its ministries, departments and agencies.

“In view of these subsisting judgments, it would amount to an act of brazen illegality for the EFCC to insist on interrogating any official of the Rivers State government.

“For the avoidance of doubt, no official of the Rivers State Government would appear before the EFCC until the subsisting judgments in favour of the Rivers State Government are set aside on appeal.

“Resorting to the media can only be described as cheap blackmail and witch-hunt to turn away public attention from the development strides in the State.

“Targeting Rivers State for this occasional media trial should be seen by the public for what it is, political witch-hunt,” the statement read.

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