The former Rivers state governor, Chibuike Amaechi, has been accused of diverting a N3 billion Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) agriculture loan to fund the 2015 elections.
This was revealed on Monday, August 24, at the public sitting of the judicial commission of inquiry set up by the present governor of the state, Nyesom Wike, to probe the sale of valued assets of the state and select projects under Amaechi, This Day reports.
According to the counsel to the commission, Dr. Zaccheus Adangor, Amaechi had on January 25, 2015, approved that N3 billion of the CBN loan be converted to grants and disbursed based on a memorandum sent to the governor by the then commissioner for agriculture, Emma Chinda.
He claimed that 380 other cooperatives benefitted from the loans which were disbursed without supervision and 38 of those cooperatives had no official documentation with the state ministry of commerce and industry.
Adangor claimed the grants were disbursed to the local government council chairmen to prosecute the 2015 presidential election and not for the development of agriculture as stipulated by the CBN.
READ ALSO: Amaechi Is Not Operating Foreign Banks Accounts - APC
Giving a breakdown of how the money was disbursed as shown in a memo submitted to the commission by the permanent secretaries, he said the former Asari Toru council chairman, Mr. Flag Ojukaye Amachree was given N54.85 million as a grant, while the chairman of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni council, Augustine Ahiamadu, on behalf of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni cooperatives received N64.3 million.
Port Harcourt cooperative society under the leadership of the former Port Harcourt city local government chairman, Nnamdi Uche, received N134.625 million and Omuda Integrated fishing cooperatives, with the former chairman of Ogu/Bolo, Mr. Mina Tende as its president received N32.175 million.
Others who benefitted were the former Khana chairman, Derick Mene, on behalf of Meni cooperative society, who got N70.373 million, while Ahoada cooperative society, with the former Ahoada East local government council chairman, Cassidy Ikegbidi, as its president, received N39.325 million.
Testifying before the commission, the director of planning, research and statistics in the Ministry of Agriculture, Grant Amadi, who served as the chairman of the Agriculture Credit Committee, said all decisions of those who benefitted from the disbursement were taken by the former state commissioner for agriculture, Emma Chinda, who only sent him the list of beneficiaries with the specific directive to instruct the banks to pay expeditiously to the benefitting cooperative societies.
Asked if he ever made any attempt to verify if the grants were used for the purpose for which they were released, Amadi pointed out that he was directed not to venture into such endeavours.
READ ALSO: Court Okays Amaechi's Probe
The permanent secretary in the ministry of commerce and industry, Cordilia Peterside told the commission that she was surprised that the loan was disbursed to serving politicians at that time.
The former commissioner for agriculture, Emma Chinda did not attend the sitting though he was invited to appear before the commission. Adangor said another invitation had been sent to him and if he failed to honour it, the commission would invoke its inherent powers in the state commission of inquiry law to compel him to appear before it.
The judicial commission of inquiry set up by Governor Wike to probe Amaechi started sitting on Monday. Declaring open the panel, the chairman of the commission, Justice George Omereji, said the commission would be fair to all, dismissing fears that it was on a witch-hunt.
Amaechi had earlier said he would not appear before the commission, noting that the governor had on several occasions publicly indicted him of corruption, stressing that there was no way a commission he established to probe him will come up with anything contrary.