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Revealed: How Past Administration, RSHA Empty State Reserve Fund

Clerk of the Rivers State House of Assembly, RSHA, Sir Emmanuel Ogele has admitted that the house approval for the withdrawal of N35bn from the state reserve funds was made in contravention with extant law, on the same day the 7th Assembly amended law No. 1 of 2014 without the former governor’s assent.

Sir. Ogele made the revelation when he appeared before the Justice Omereji led judicial commission of inquiry sitting at the High Court Complex, Port Harcourt, Friday 4th September, 2015.

Sir Emmanuel Ogele who was clerk of the 7th Assembly as well as serving clerk equally agreed that a bill does not become law without the governor’s assent confessed that as at the time of the house adopted a resolution on 13th February, 2014 for the withdrawal of Thirty billion naira (N30b), the bill so amended same day was not assented to by the former governor.

According to Ogele, two resolutions for N30b and N5b respectively were adopted same day 13/2/2014 without specification on the need or projects the funds would be used for.

The custodian of the Assembly records declined having knowledge of records of the projects for which the RSHA authorized the then governor to assessed N55b from the reserves funds, when he appealed for time to reach out to the former leadership of the Assembly to see if such documents came to them.

On the total savings in the state reserve fund, the clerk also declined knowledge of the total savings in the account but stated that every approval or authorization by the house was proceeded on a request from the former governor.

Out of the total of 4 requests sent to the House for withdrawal of N30bn and N5bn respectively on 25/2/2014, N19b on 20/10/2014 and N1b on 18/5/15 the Assembly clerk was unable to produce the request for the N30b rather an affidavit of loss of document.

In his submission, the clerk claimed that the document for the withdrawal of N30b might have slipped out of the file during the packing and repacking to and from government house, the former Assembly sitting venue.

Earlier on Tursday September 3rd, 2014, the former Accountant general of the state, Sir. Ngozi Abu had told the judicial commission of inquiry that Rivers State government contributed N37bn to the reserves fund.

He further noted that the fund rose to N53,925,953b due to increase in investments.

However, Sir. Abu’s claim of N53,925,953b was a sharp decline from the figure, the first trustee of the reserve fund, First Bank of Nigeria, FBN, gave as N55b.

It would be noted that records of approval for withdrawals as stated by the Assembly clerk, Sir. Ogele is in agreement with the figure given by the FBN.

Meanwhile, Sir Abu who struggled to exonerate self from the flagrant abuse of the law establishing the Rivers State reserve funds noted that though he was a member of the investment committee inchrage of the reserve funds, majority of its members were of the then state executive council where deliberations and decisions were made concerning the funds, stated that his duty was to adhere to directives on disbursement. ###

 

James Mgboineme

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