The Rivers State Government has declared that it will demand a refund of N82million allegedly expended by former Governor Chibuike Amaechi on a dinner in honour of Professor Wole Soyinka if it confirms that the Nobel Laureate received part of the funds in cash.
This was disclosed by the Commissioner of Information, Dr Austin Tam-George.
Amaechi, the immediate past governor of the state, is the incumbent Minister of Information. His successor Nyesom Wike, accuses him of mismanaging state funds.
Speaking in a radio programme in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, Tam-George said Amaechi used the Ministry of Information and Communications then headed by Ibim Semenitari to incur a N1.1billion debt on frivolous expenditure.
According to Dr Tam-George: “I will seek the permission of the governor (Wike) to formally write Professor Wole Soyinka, a known supporter of Amaechi if he received part of the N82million spent on a three-hour dinner hosted for him by the Amaechi administration.
“If he agrees that he received such funds, then he will be compelled to refund same to the coffers of Rivers State. At present, we have presented these details to the police for investigation and prosecution. We shall also take up this matter as a financial crime against the people of Rivers State. ”
The commissioner said that Amaechi betrayed the trust of Rivers people by embarking on irresponsible expenses, which led to the mismanagement and fraudulent misuse of N3trillion that accrued to the state under his watch.
He said Wike had to leave the Amaechi administration when the former governor refused his advice to use Rivers resources to develop the state.
“The point of departure between former Governor Amaechi and Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike was Wike’s commitment to probity and accountability. Governor Wike refused to be part of the financial mismanagement of resources that accrued to the state,” Tam-George said.
Amaechi has however denied misappropriating N82 million in hosting Soyinka and dared Wike to go to court.
In the statement issued by his media office on Wednesday, Amaechi accused the Wike administration of spreading lies, criminalising legitimate transactions of government and doing everything to smear him.
While daring Wike to go to court if he found anything wrong in what was done by the Amaechi administration, the statement said: “Wike must stop these silly distractions. Rivers people are not interested in his lies and witch-hunt. Rather, Rivers people want to know what will happen to their children that he stopped and cancelled the funding of their scholarships abroad. Rivers people want to know why the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA), an agency setup by law is no longer functioning under Wike. Why instead of quality education, a standard set by his predecessor, under Wike, grasses and weeds have taken over the beautiful schools built by Amaechi?”
“Rivers people want to know why the standard health facilities and services put in place by the Amaechi administration are rotting away, not this petty rambling. Rivers people want to know why the Wike government does not care about the security of their lives and property, as violence and criminals have taken over. Rivers people want to know why it feels as if there is no government in Rivers State, and this is in spite of the billions of naira that has accrued to the Wike administration and the tens of billions of naira borrowed.”
The statement warned Wike against dragging the names of respected Nigerians who have made the country proud globally and who are internationally known to be honest and forthright, such as Prof Soyinka into his unbridled, unashamed and ill-advised attack of his former boss and benefactor.