Alleged N96 Billion Fraud: Rivers Gov Files Complaint Against Ruling APC Gubernatorial Candidate Amaechi, Cole and Others
The Rivers State government has filed a lawsuit against Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of the state, for alleged fraud.
Others listed as co-defendants in the lawsuit marked PHC/1818/CR/2022 filed June 7 are All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate in the state, Tonye Cole; Dr. Chamberlain Peterside; Sir Augustin Wokocha; Sahara Energy Resources Limited; NG Power-HpS Limited and Cenpropsaroten Management Limited.
Governor Nyesom Wike had in 2015 set up a seven-man task force to investigate Amaechi over an alleged withdrawal of 96 billion naira from the state treasury during the latter’s tenure as governor.
The panel, led by Judge George Omekeji, had also investigated issues surrounding the former governor’s “sale of assets”.
The valuable assets listed are Omoku Gas Turbine, Afam Gas Turbine, Trans Amadi Gas Turbine, Eleme Gas Turbine, Olympia Hotel and award of contract for execution of Mono Rail project.
The panel submitted its report in 2015, but Amaechi insisted he was not guilty of fraud.
However, on May 27, 2022, the Supreme Court denied a request by Amaechi, challenging the investigation.
Weeks after the judgment, Wike ordered state attorney general Zaccheus Adangor to press charges against the former governor, as well as against Sahara Energy, a company charged in the deals, reports The Nigeria Law.
The company is co-founded by Tonye Cole, a businessman and All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate in Rivers State.
“Between 2011 and 2012 in Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt Division of the Rivers State High Court, you conspired to commit a felony to steal the sum of $274,563,599.59,” indicates one of the charges.
In count two, the state alleged that Amaechi and his co-defendants during the same period “stole the same amount of money from the sale of 70% of the shares owned by him in the production assets electricity from Omoku, Trans-Amadi, Eleme Gas Turbines and Afam.
The State further to Count Five alleged that Amaechi, Sahara Energy, Cenpropsaroten Hotel Management Limited and Cole during the same period “conspired by fraudulent means to affect the market price of the Olympia Hotel Port Harcourt by offering the said Olympia Hotel Port Harcourt under concession exclusively to Sahara Energy Resources Limited and Cenpropsaroten Hotel Management Limited (a subsidiary of Sahara Energy) and Cole (Director) instead of resorting to an open tender prescribed under the 60(1) of the Rivers State Public and Private Participation in Infrastructure Development Act Number 5 of 2009”.
On count six, the government claimed that Amaechi, Sahara Energy, Cenpropsaroten and Cole conspired with each other to commit a crime by stealing $1 million, the concession fee the defending companies paid the government. of Rivers State for the Olympia Hotel concession for a period of 40 years.
The state in Count Eight alleged that Amaechi and Sahara Energy on or about December 1, 2014 conspired with each other to commit a crime by stealing the sum of $53,095,602.05 from the Rivers government dollar account number 0064809429 from Access Bank, Bank Road Branch, Port Harcourt.
The offenses would have been contrary to sections 421, 422, 516A and 383 of the Penal Code, Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999.