Sunday, February 25, 2024

Alleged N117bn fraud: Applicants ask court to compel EFCC, others to probe Rivers finances under Wike

A Federal High Court has been asked to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission to probe Rivers State’s spendings during the tenure of ex-Governor Nyesom Wike.

The suit, filed by Precious Elekima and a group, Incorporated Trustees of Peoples Life Improvement Foundation, also urged the court to direct the Inspector General of Police to step into the matter.

In the suit marked: FHC/PH/CS/199/2023, filed on May 30 in the Port-Harcourt division of the court, the applicants averred that Wike allegedly diverted huge funds belonging to the state.

Elekima and the PLIF said their resort to the court was as a result of the alleged failure of the IG, the EFCC and the ICPC to act on their petition dated May 23, 2023, which had since been submitted to them.

Elekima and the PLIF want the court to, among others, declare that the 1st to 3rd respondents (the IGP, the EFCC and the ICPC) have the statutory duties and powers to investigate their petition against Wike and some named bankers in Rivers “and to prosecute any of them found to have contravened any law within their respective statutory mandates.”

They also want the court to issue “an order of mandamus directing the 1st to 3rd respondents to investigate the criminal allegations made to them against the 4th to 16th respondents (Wike and the banks) in the said petition and prosecute them or any of them found culpable of the said criminal allegations.”

Elekima and the PLIF claimed that they possess information and documents showing that huge funds were diverted from the Rivers’ coffers during Wike’s tenure.

They stated that in the course of their official activities, they became aware and had reason to reasonably suspect and believe that the 4th respondent in his capacity as governor, fraudulently withdrew N117 billion belonging to the Rivers Government.

This, they said, was in excess of the threshold permitted by extant laws and financial regulations with intent to misappropriate and divert same and did in fact divert same for his personal benefit.”

Elekima and the PLIF added that they “reasonably suspect that the 4th respondent, in conspiracy with other officials of the Government of Rivers State and 5th  to 16th respondents fraudulently withdrew, laundered and embezzled huge funds from the Rivers State internally generated revenue collected and domiciled in several accounts with the 5th to 16th respondents.”

They alleged that they  “reasonably suspect that the 4th respondent also diverted and fraudulently misappropriated huge public funds belonging to the Government and people of Rivers State to his private use.”

Filed along with the suit for judicial review, is a motion ex-parte in which they are seeking leave to apply for an order of mandamus and for service of originating summons on the 1st to 3rd respondents in Abuja.

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