The Rivers State Judicial Commission of Inquiry on Wednesday submitted its report to the State Governor, Nyesom Wike, with an appeal to him to recover stolen funds belonging to the people, including the sum of N53 billion taken from the State Reserve Fund.
The commission was set up by Wike to investigate the sale of valued assets belonging to the state by the Rotimi Amaechi administration.
Chairman of the commission, Justice George Omereji, suggested that the state governor should swing into action and ensure that billions of Naira belonging to the state stashed away in some places were returned while those found culpable should be prosecuted.
Omereji, who spoke with newsmen after submitting the panel’s report, disclosed that investigation had revealed that the immediate past administration in the state had removed N53 billion from the N55 billion left in the State Reserve Fund between 2014 and May 2015.
He explained that the commission could not find any project linked to the withdrawal of the N53billion from the state reserve fund and added that the money was shared among cronies of the past administration.
Describing the task given to the panel as enormous, Omereji also disclosed that the immediate past administration could not actualise the building of the Justice Karibi Whyte Hospital, even when a huge amount of money had been paid to contractors for the project.
He said, “There was the sum of N55 billion in the State Reserve Fund. Between 2014 and May 2015, they (immediate past administration) were able to remove N53 billion and we found out that the money (N53 billion) was not used for the projects in the state. The money went to individuals. From the papers submitted to us, we also found out that the money was given to people they like.
“We went to the site of the Justice Karibi Whyte Hospital, we did not see anything at all. When I told the project contractor to come with us (panel) to the place, he said snakes would bite us.
“But I insisted that we should go there. Behold, by the time we went inside, we did not see anything. The whole billions of Naira given to the man cannot be accounted for. We have recommended that those found culpable should refund the money. We even recommended that some people should be prosecuted.
“I don’t want to tell you those that will be prosecuted. It is not good for me to reveal the content of the recommendations now because we have just submitted our report.”
Earlier, Omereji had informed the governor that 27 memoranda and 142 exhibits were received by the commission and added that 25 witness testified before the panel.
“We hope that the government will act fast and by the time the government looks into this report and act fast, it will be able to recover billions that are still stashed in where they kept them.
“That money belongs to Rivers people and they should be recovered so that we can use it for the people of Rivers State,” Omereji insisted.
He, however, thanked Wike for giving him and members of the panel the opportunity to serve the state, promising to be available to serve whenever the need arises.
Responding, the state governor vowed to implement the recommendations of the Omereji-led panel and maintained that his administration would not be intimidated by any person or group of persons.