N118bn Unlawful Withdrawals: Rivers State Insists on Not Releasing Officials to EFCC

Rivers State Government has insisted that it would not release any government official to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for any investigation.

The Commissioner for Information and Communication, Paulinus Nsirim, said apart from the fact that the state government would not submit to a media trial of its officials by the EFCC, there is a subsisting court order barring the EFCC from investigating or inquiring into financial transactions  of the Rivers State government, its ministries and agencies.

Nsirim was responding to an allegation by the EFCC that Rivers State government had refused to release its top officials for interrogation over the alleged unlawful withdrawal of N118 billion in cash between 2015 and 2018.

The commissioner described EFCC’s allegation as a “a fresh wave of media trial” and “cheap blackmail and witch-hunt” aimed at diverting attention from the development successes that the state government had made.

“For the avoidance of doubt, no official of the Rivers State Government would appear before the EFCC until the subsisting judgments in favour of the Rivers State Government are set aside on appeal,” Nsirim said.

He added, “We have repeatedly said that the State Government will not release its officials to the EFCC for investigations until the commission approaches the Court  to set aside subsisting orders of perpetual injunction granted by various courts of competent jurisdiction restraining the EFCC from investigating or inquiring into the financial transactions of the Rivers state government including its ministries, departments and agencies.

“In view of these subsisting judgments, it would amount to an act of brazen illegality for the EFCC to insist on interrogating any official of the Rivers state government.”

Emphasising that the state government would not be intimidated by the EFCC, the commissioner said the commission would again fail in “this media trial that they engage in all the time. The EFCC should stop playing to the gallery and pursue its war against corruption within the ambits of the law.”

He said further,  “Those who want to use the EFCC to promote their political agenda in the State will fail because we know their antics.

“Targeting Rivers State for this occasional media trial should be seen by the public for what it is, “political witch-hunt”.”

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