Governor Nyesome Wike of Rivers State has alleged that the money found by the EFCC at an apartment in Ikoyi area of Lagos State was kept there by former governor Rotimi Amaechi.
He further described claims by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) that the money belongs to it as pure balderdash.
The EFCC had stormed a house in Osborne Road, Ikoyi, where it discovered $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23,218,000 (amounting to about N18billion) stashed in fire-proof cabinets. A court has placed a temporary forfeiture order on the funds, and they will be permanently forfeited to the federal government if the true owner do not show up in 30 days.
Reports had surfaced soon after that the NIA may be the owner of the money. Thought there has been no official reaction from the security agency, the reports quote sources within as claiming that the agency was keeping the monies there, and that it was meant for clandestine operations outside Nigeria.
Wike however, insinuated that the NIA claims are a cover up for Amaechi, who is currently the Minister of Aviation, and that the $43million was part of proceeds from the sale of a gas turbine in the state built by the administration of Dr. Peter Odili, whom Amaechi succeeded.
The governor has therefore given the federal government a seven-day ultimatum to return the money to the state, or face legal actions.
Governor Wike also challenged the Federal Government to set up a commission of inquiry to probe the source of the money found in the flat.
He said, “All these things they are saying that the $43m belong to the Nigerian Intelligence Agency is balderdash. When did the NIA begin to keep money in houses? As I speak to you now, the Federal Government is so embarrassed.
“I want the President to set up a commission of inquiry. We don’t want to fight anybody; they should set up a commission of inquiry or return our money within seven days. If they don’t, we will take all necessary legal actions and NIA will come and prove where they got the money from.
“The $43m is the proceeds of the sale of the gas turbine sold by the immediate past administration. The gas turbine was built by the (Peter) Odili administration. It (gas turbine) was sold to Sahara Energy.
“The turbine was sold for $319m. But as of May 2015, what was in the account was $204,000. We will avail ourselves and we will be present at the commission of inquiry expected to be set up by the Federal Government. If we are invited, we will come. There is no contradiction in this at all, but I know they (FG) will not agree.”
According to the governor, the money is more than enough to complete the mono rail project in the state, as well as many more, even as he claimed he would embark on what he termed ‘projects galore’ if the money is returned to Rivers State.
He said, “Part of the money from the sale of the gas turbine was used to fund the All Progressives Congress campaign. We are telling the world that the money belongs to us. If they (FG) give us the money, I will complete the monorail project,” he said.
There are also reports that the money has set off bad blood and inter-agency friction between the NIA and the EFCC, as the NIA is said to be unhappy with how the EFCC conducted itself as far as the discoveries of the Manley was found and made public.
Sources within the NIA claim that the agency’s men on ground had informed EFCC operatives when they stormed the apartment that they would jeopardize an ongoing clandestine operation, but their explanations reportedly fell in deaf ears.
They were said to have also showed their identity cards to the EFCC officials who reportedly ignored them going ahead to break down the doors of the apartment where the money was found.
The sources also claim that a phone call made by the Director-General of the NIA, Amb. Ayo Oke to the acting chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu also yielded no results.
Presidency sources also confirmed to Ripples Nigeria that Amb. Oke, Magu and and the National Security Adviser, Babagana Moguno, had met over the issue, but the outcome of their meeting was not made public.
Asides Wike, several others have also fingered Amaechi as the owner of the stash found in the Ikoyi apartment, with some suggesting that it was being kept there in preparation for the 2019 elections.
The minster has however denied all claims, insisting he has nothing to do with either the money, or the apartment.
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