Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transport, on Saturday in his response to Governor Nyesom Wike regarding the recovered N13billion from an apartment in Ikoyi area of Lagos State, vehemently denied that he has any link to the money.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on Wednesday recovered about $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23,218,000 valued at N13billion from an apartment at Osborne Towers in Ikoyi.
Governor Wike of Rivers State had accused Amaechi who was the state immediate past governor of being the owner of the N13billion, saying that the money belonged to the Rivers State Government and should be returned to the state coffers.
“We have facts to prove that the said money belongs to the Rivers State Government,” Wike told reporters in Port-Harcourt the Rivers State capital on Friday.
He also gave the Buhari-led Federal Government “seven days to return or money” or face “legal action.”
“We need that money for projects,” Mr. Wike said.
The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) had however claimed the funds, saying that it was approved by Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan for some secret and crucial security projects.
The Director General of the NIA, Ayodele Oke, had confirmed that the money belonged to his agency and was approved when the immediate past NIA DG, Olaniyi Oladeji, alerted Jonathan to provide money for some secret projects.
Wike however said that the NIA’s claim was false, saying that it was designed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) controlled Federal Government as cover-up.
“If you recollect in 2015, we said that gas turbines built by Former Governor Peter Odili were sold to Sahara Energy, business partners of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi at $319 million.
“That money was used to sponsor the All Progressives Congress for the 2015 general elections. From the date of sale of the gas turbines to May 29, 2015, the money depleted from $319 million to $204,000. What was stashed at the Ikoyi residence was part of that fund.
“As I speak to you, the Federal Government is so embarrassed that this has happened. All the stories that the money belongs to the NIA are fake,” the governor said.
Mr. Amaechi however denied having any link to the money. His spokesman, David Iyofor, described Wike’s claims as another failed attempt to divert attention from the mess he has created in Rivers State.
“For clarity and emphasis, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi is not the owner of the $43million and the Ikoyi apartment in which the money was recovered from. Amaechi has no business, link or connection to the money or property. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi does not know who owns the money or Ikoyi apartment.”
“Wike’s malicious allegation of corruption against Amaechi in the sale of the Gas Turbines is not new.
“This false claim has been punctured repeatedly with facts and evidence of the transfer payments for the power plants into Rivers State government accounts by Sahara Energy.
“The records of how the funds were spent and what it was spent on are in the records of the State government. Amaechi has absolutely no business or any interest whatsoever in Sahara Energy.
“The company was already a thriving business concern before Amaechi’s emergence as governor of Rivers State in 2007.
“We urge all right-thinking members of the public to completely disregard all the false, politically motivated no-proof claims by Nyesom Wike and his minions as it concerns Amaechi and the $43million and Ikoyi property,” he said.
“Yet again, we challenge Wike to charge Amaechi to court if he has any shred of evidence that the money belongs to Rivers State and was kept in the Ikoyi apartment by Amaechi.
“But like his numerous frivolous accusations in the past, we know he won’t go to court. He has nothing to substantiate his blatant lies. This Wike’s recent tale like his previous ones is a big sham, a disgraceful political drama, and a campaign of calumny to defame and destroy the sterling reputation of Rotimi Amaechi. This is now Wike’s sole life ambition.”
Wike on Saturday while briefing Rivers Christian Leaders described the incident as an unfortunate desperation of the APC-led Federal Government to cover corruption because her financial sponsor is involved.
“The Federal Government wants us to believe that a security agency will keep a whopping N 16billion in a private residence in cash. They think that Nigerians don’t have brains.
“When millions of dollars were found in Kaduna, the EFCC was quick to announce the owner of that money. Now they don’t know the whistle blower in the case of the Ikoyi Billions and they are afraid to disclose the owner of the money.
“I am not interested in the prosecution of our son, the former governor, Rotimi Amaechi. We are just interested in the return of Rivers money . God has caught them”.
“If the Federal Government does not leave Rivers State alone, it will never be well with them”.
The governor also added that unless the Federal Government returns the money, the APC administration will not know peace.
“They are covering corruption because a key player of the administration is involved. This is not a rumour. They know that the money belongs to Amaechi”, he said.