N96bn Fraud: Rivers Withdraws Criminal Charges Against Amaechi

‘N96bn Fraud’: Rivers Withdraws Criminal Charges Against Amaechi
Rotimi Amaechi

The Rivers State Government has withdrawn the criminal charges it instituted against Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of the state and former minister of transportation.

Nyesom Wike, Rivers governor, had set up a seven-man panel to probe Amaechi over the alleged withdrawal of N96 billion from the state’s treasury during the latter’s tenure as governor.

The panel had also investigated issues surrounding the “sale of assets” by the former governor.

The listed assets are Omoku Gas Turbine, Afam Gas Turbine, Trans Amadi Gas Turbine, Eleme Gas Turbine, Olympia Hotel, and the contract award for the execution of the Mono Rail Project.

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The panel submitted its report in 2015, but Amaechi has since insisted that he is not guilty of fraud.

However, on May 27, 2022, the supreme court dismissed an application by Amaechi challenging the probe.

Consequently, Wike directed Zaccheus Adangor, the state’s attorney-general, to commence immediate prosecution of the former transport minister as well as Tonye Cole, governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the state, and five others.

The defendants subsequently challenged the legality of using a private prosecutor instead of the attorney-general of the state to prosecute the suit.

At the court session on Thursday, counsel to the state government informed the court of the decision to withdraw the suit.

But the defence counsel argued that the move was an abuse of court process, and proceeded to ask for a dismissal of the charges.

After listening to the submissions of the parties, Okogbule Gbasam, the presiding judge, struck out the suit and the charges against the defendants.

The judge ruled that the plaintiff has the right to discontinue the matter.