Wike said unconstitutional freezing of accounts of the states was tantamount to the closure of the executive, legislative and judicial arms of the states
Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has described the freezing of the accounts of Benue and Akwa-Ibom States as more grievous than the invasion of the National Assembly by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
To this end, he called on acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, to extend the same punishment that was meted out on the ex-DSS DG, Lawal Daura, to the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
Wike, in an interview with journalists yesterday at the Government House, Port Harcourt, said the unconstitutional freezing of the accounts of the two states was tantamount to the closure of the executive, legislative and judicial arms of the two states.
“I am calling for the sack of the acting chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, for overthrowing a tier government. The mere fact that the two accounts have been reopened does not mean that a crime was not committed.
“When you freeze the account of the state government, you have overthrown that government. Without funds, a state cannot function. This means a total shutdown of government business at the executive, legislative and judicial arms in the affected states,” Wike said.
The governor said that the impunity of the EFCC could no longer be overlooked because it has the capacity to destroy democracy.
He said the condemnation of the EFCC’s illegality by the chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum was not enough, noting that the forum must stand up to defend the independence of states, as the second tier of government.
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Governor Wike also called for the prosecution of Magu, saying if the DG DSS could be sacked for overthrowing just one arm of Federal Government, then Magu should be sacked too.
“The chairman of that agency overthrew the governments of Benue and Akwa Ibom States. Remember that this country is a federation consisting of federating units. As a federal system, we have three tiers of government. These tiers of government share the funds that accrue to the federation monthly.
The governor further said that when the Benue State governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, was still in the All Progressives Congress (APC), the state government accounts were never freezed, saying the latest action was carried out because the governor defected.
Meanwhile, the EFCC said freezing of the accounts of Benue State has no political undertone. The anti-graft Commission said it took the step to aid its investigations.
An official of the anti-graft body, who pleaded anonymity, described, as laughable, claims that it froze the account of the state because of the recent defection of the State Governor, Samuel Ortom, from All Progressives Congress (APC) to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“Our action in Benue has nothing to do with politics. It is strictly in line with the rule of investigation,” he said.
He said EFCC has been investigating officials of the state for a long time, stressing that the Commission had to freeze the account to enable it conclude its investigation.
He said: “We had to freeze the account to enable us complete our investigation. We did that to prevent the money in the accounts being taken away and our investigations jeopardized.”
On whether the Commission unfroze the account because of public outcry, he said “there is nothing like that, we do our job professionally.”