The Justice George Omereji-led judicial commission of inquiry set up by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State to look into the alleged illegal sales of assets of the state, on Wednesday, submitted its report, indicting the immediate past governor of the state, Rotimi Amaechi.
Chairman of the panel, while speaking with newsmen after submitting the report and its recommendation to the governor, said N53 billion disappeared from the state between 2014 and May, 2015.
He also expressed dissatisfaction with the various projects executed by the former governor, especially the Justice Adolphous Karibe-Whyte Hospital and the Olympiad Hotel, saying they were conduit pipes used to siphon the state funds.
It would be recalled that Governor Wike set up the commission with the mandate to investigate the sale of the Omoku 150 MW gas turbine, Afam 360 MW gas turbine, Trans-Amadi 136 MW gas turbine and the Eleme 75 MW gas turbine.
The panel also investigated the sale of Olympia Hotel, the execution of the mono-rail project, non-execution of the Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte Specialist Hospital, after the alleged payment of $39.2 million to the contractor that handled the project.
The commission was also mandated to investigate the disbursement and use of the state N2 billion agriculture credit guarantee scheme fund and the alleged withdrawal of N96 billion from the State Reserve Funds.
Justice Omereji said the assignment was tasking, but added that he and the other members of the commission were not deterred or intimidated in any way.
He specifically said there was N55 billion in the Rivers State Reserve Fund up till last year, adding: “But between 2014 and May 2015, they were able to remove N53 billion.
“We found out that the money was not used for the projects in the state, it went to some individuals. This finding was from their own paper submitted to us. We also discovered that the money was given to people they liked.
“We went to some of the projects’ sites. For example, at the Justice Adolphous Karibe-Whyte Specialist Hospital, we did not see anything at all when we went there. When I even told the project contractor that we should go to the basement, he was afraid, saying that snakes would bite us.
“But I insisted as I told him that even if we see the snake, we would march on it and it would die. Behold, when we went inside, nothing. The whole billions of naira given to the man were all in vain. There was nothing to show for the money.
“On the Olympia Hotel, I was disappointed because of the nature of the agreement they said they reached. But we have recommended something to the state government on what should be done.”
The chairman of the judiciary commission however refused to disclose the recommendations in the report as submitted to Governor Wike, noting it was left for the government to look into it and work on it.