Wike locks horns with EFCC over fresh probe into Rivers’ finances
Governor Wike

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is investigating the Rivers State Government for alleged cash withdrawals totalling N117bn.

The PUNCH gathered on Sunday that the withdrawals from the account of the state government were made in the last three years.

 A top official of the commission, who confided in The PUNCH on Sunday, said the “curious”withdrawals violated the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.

He stated, “In all, we are investigating cash withdrawals totaling N117bn from the Rivers State accounts in the last three years. The manner the money was withdrawn was suspicious.”

The EFCC source, who cited some of the withdrawals, which he said were curious, said 45 different cheques were issued in the name of one person on June 8, 2015.

According to him, a total of N450m were withdrawn from the state government account in the Zenith Bank that day.

He also gave an example of total withdrawal of N500m on June 9, 2015 through 50 different cheques.

The PUNCH learnt that the commission was on the trail of four different suspects over the suspicious withdrawals from the Zenith Bank by the Rivers State Government.

It was gathered that the EFCC would this week invite the Director of Finance and Administration in the Rivers State Government House, Similari   Fubura, for interrogation over the withdrawals.

The EFCC source said some senior members of staff of the Zenith Bank were invited by the commission last week, but he could not confirm the exact date of the invitation and whether they had honoured it.

The Head, Corporate Communications of Zenith Bank, Mr Victor Adoji, could not be reached for comments.

Calls sent to his mobile number did not go through while a text message sent to him had yet to be responded to as of 8.30pm.

Wike dares EFCC, says no Rivers official will appear before it

But the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has declared that no official of the Rivers State Government will appear before the EFCC over what he called politically-motivated investigations until the commission approached the Court of Appeal to set aside the 2007 judgment barring the commission from investigating the state.

A statement on Sunday signed by the Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu, quoted Governor Wike as describing the alleged action of the EFCC as a political witch-hunt.

 “We are not afraid of their probe and they have no power to probe us. No government official will appear before the EFCC until they set aside the court judgment of Rivers State Government against them in 2007. We cannot be intimidated.

“They filed for leave to appeal the judgment at the Court of Appeal. Until they set aside the judgment, we will not come,” Wike insisted.

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