The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has commenced a probe into how a former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, allegedly diverted N100 billion for personal use.
Odili, who was governor between 1999 and 2007, was alleged to have moved about N4 billion in cash to a bank between 2004 and 2006, in favour of his Aide-De-Camp, Isaac Onyesom, and Emmanuel Nkata who worked in the Rivers State liaison office in Abuja.
The EFCC in a fact sheet on the probe also alleged that N1.5 billion out of the amount was used by the ex-governor to obtain a doctorate degree and naming of a Hall after him in Lincoln University, USA.
It alleged that about N100 million was doled out to a former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party on November 28, 2005.
But while still under probe, the administration of Governor Nyesom Wike was alleged to have transferred suspicious N2billion (public funds) to some firms belonging to Odili between 2016 and 2018.
There were indications that Odili might be put on trial by the EFCC.
But Odili in a suit FHC/ PHC/C3/26/2020 dated March 12, 2020, asked a Federal High Court to restrain the EFCC from investigating him.
He said the EFCC was bound by the 2007 judgments of the Federal High Court on the perpetual injunction against his arrest and prosecution.
He said the EFCC had been threatening to arrest, detain and prosecute him.
According to document on the status of investigation on Odili, the EFCC claimed that the ex-governor allegedly laundered the N100billion under the guise of pursuing a Power Project in Rivers State.
The document reads in part: “The Commission wishes to once again explain the case being investigated for which some restraining orders were obtained by both the representative of Rivers State Government and Dr. Peter Odili and also the new intelligence that were got against the third party which had link with some group of companies belonging to Odili.
“For the purpose of clarity, the commission wishes to put more light on the ongoing investigation in 2006 before it was aborted by some high court, based on a suit instituted by the former Governor of River State and some officials of the State govt.
“The petitioner had alleged that Dr. Peter Odili, then a governor of Rivers State had conspired with officials of his government and the chairman, Rocksons Engineering Group of Companies to divert over N100billion from the account of Rivers State, alleging that he used same for Power Project in Rivers.
“The petitioner also went further to say that part of the state fund was moved to the Government House account, from where it was distributed to the then governor and his relatives and investigation commence.
“The said account of the Government House was immediately obtained and details of the account revealed that about N4 billion between 2004 and 2006 was moved in cash in favour Odili’s ADC, Isaac Onyesom and one Emmanuel Nkata of the Rivers State liaison office, Abuja.
“These funds were withdrawn in cash for the former governor of Rivers State. Emmanuel Nkatah was arrested and he confirmed that the funds were withdrawn for the former governor through his ADC.
“ Investigation was on when the ADC, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), suddenly retired from the Police and disappeared into thin air.
“ Among those who also benefited from the funds from Rivers State was a former National Chairman of PDP who received a manager’s cheque of N100 million from the same account on November 28, 2005.
“ Between 2005 and 2006, the former governor Odili paid about N1.5billion which was used to obtain a doctorate degree and naming of a Hall after him in Lincoln University, USA and so many others.
“ From the same account, he moved N3 billion to an oil company for shares, N1.4 billion to a bottle water company, and about N1.8billion to a communication company which as of 2006, had no share as it was not a quoted company.
“ When the investigation commenced, he quickly involved the State Govt to take over the shares but the State Govt was not comfortable and requested that the companies return their money.
The EFCC said despite being under investigation, about N10billion questionable deposits were found in some accounts traced to Odili and a retired Assistant Superintendent of Police.
It said N2billion out of the suspicious N10billion was lodged in some companies belonging to Odili by the Rivers State Government between 2016 and 2017.
The document added: “Sometimes in 2018, information was received that some Companies belonging to a retired ASP: NUMAC Project Company Ltd and NUMAC Global Resources Ltd, had between 2004 and 2018 received over N5 billion into the account and the funds came in tranches of N500, N300 millions etc, which is suspicious.
”These Companies and their accounts were thoroughly investigated. It was discovered that the inflow into these accounts are mostly cash.
“ On few occasions, about N2billion came in from Rivers State Government account between 2016 and 2017.
“These funds were traced to the following Companies: Pamo Group of companies Ltd, Pamo Clinic and Hospital and Pamo Educational Foundation. The above companies were found to have belonged to Dr. Peter Odili and his family.
“Based on the above, and in view that the above companies were not part of restraining order of the Federal High Court, the EFCC commenced further investigation.
“ It was further established that the funds were moved from the banks in Abuja contrary to the claims that the money formed part of the security .
“The ADC, the principal suspect in the alleged fraud has been in hiding, he has refused to honour the invitation of the Commission. The commission reliably gathered that it was because of the case that he prematurely retired from the police voluntarily.”
The former governor is however fighting back by approaching a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt seeking a fresh injunction against EFCC.