N300m scam: Rivers SSG, chief of staff arrested

  • Tuesday, October 07, 2008 - Erasmus Alaneme, Abuja
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Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday arrested and detained Nyeson Wike, Chief of Staff to the Rivers State Governor, and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Magnus Abbe, over alleged loot of the state treasury running into over N300million.

The EFCC said the state's accountant-general and the commissioner of finance in the state were said to have travelled to London yesterday in company of Governor Rotimi Amaechi, possibly to avoid arrest.

Spokesperson for the EFCC, Femi Babafemi, who confirmed the detention of Chief of Staff and the SSG to Daily Champion yesterday said they were already in the net while "the finance commissioner and accountant general escaped to London today with the Governor."

It would be recalled that the detained Chief of Staff who had gone to the office of the EFCC to clear himself from the allegation of corruption was accompanied by the SSG since the state government was involved.

Also, EFCC had before now frozen two accounts belonging to the state government as well as an individual account said to belong to the Chief of Staff, Wike, as part of its efforts at fighting alleged massive corruption and treasury looting in the state.

According to sources in the EFCC, the Chief of Staff, SSG are now in net because they felt that the alleged political solution sought for the case at was going to sail through but its failure landed them in the EFCC net yesterday evening.

Some of the allegations being investigated by the EFCC, include that the Chief of Staff, Mr. Wike is allegedly in control of a massive building in Port Harcourt worth about N150 million, which he reportedly told investigators that he was building on behalf of Governor Amaechi and that all the transactions was done using cash taken out of the state accounts with Zenith Bank of Nigeria in Port Harcourt.

"The Chief of Staff to the governor, Nyeson Wike, in connivance with Zenith Bank officials at the Azikiwe Road branch, opened one of the accounts (Number 601-091-6587) on March 27th 2008 with the fictitious name, "Harrison Ba Princewill." The fictitious account was being run by Wike on behalf of Governor Rotimi Amaechi.

"the account lacked such required information as passport photographs and information about the next of kin of "Harrison B. Princewill". However, the account was fully active and enjoying daily inflows of cash such that by April 26 2008, that is, within one month, it had already been credited with N3.6 billion ($30 million).

"As the money swelled in Zenith bank, officials notified Wike that the account was being monitored for suspicious activities. On June 5th 2008, Mr. Wike colluded with a Zenith bank staff named "Mohammed" to change the account details and convert it to a "Government House Account". "Harrison Ba Princewill" then became a depositor to the new "Government House Account".

Just about the same time, another account directly controlled by Nyeson Wike (Number 602-500-4949) at the same branch of Zenith Bank in Port Harcourt began to witness a flurry of activities. Between June 5 and July 3rd 2008, the sum of N223 million passed into the account from the new "Government House Account" and several illegal transfers followed afterwards.

"And then, on September 5, 2008 at exactly 3:30p.m., Mr. Wike withdrew the sum of N300 million from his account at Zenith Bank, and promptly disappeared into thin air.

"Of the two Rivers state government accounts frozen last Wednesday by the EFCC, Wike had allegedly withdrawn about N400 million from the converted "Government House Account." The remainder of N3 billion remains frozen. The other account had N27 billion left in it.

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