…RSHA battles to redeem image
The Rivers State House of Assembly may have started to make genuine effort to wash its ‘cloaks clean’ and redeem its image from public perception over the manner in which it handled the grave allegations of financial impropriety against the chairman of Ahoada-East LGA, Hon Cassidy Ikegbidi which the lawmakers swept under the carpet in 2012.
Rivers people were at a loss, whether those they elected to check the excesses of the executive arm had not burnt their fingers in the rot, especially the way Ikegbidi could not account for N1.1bn he claimed to have spent as Recurrent expenditure within a period of 6 months (June – December, 2011) and which the committee that investigated it described as a sin against God and humanity. Curiously, the Ahoada East boss has been walking the streets unperturbed. But, the lawmakers are now sneezing, and have resumed and may also have taken as a New Year Resolution to carpet the doubting public that they are capable of serving them.
So, on Wednesday February 27, 2013, during its sitting, the member representing Ahoada East II, Prince (Hon) Ibiso Nwuche read a petition authored by one Hon Bright Nelson captioned A call for an urgent investigation/intervention Re: Case of fraud, misappropriation of funds, criminal complicity and insubordination to party disciplines. The petition has an addition that all the elected members of Ahoada East council, deputy chairman Hon Britain Ewoh and the entire councilors be sacked along with the “juju priest” Ikegbidi.
If this prayer goes through, then the entire Ahoada East council will be dissolved.
The petition: I hereby once again wish to bring to the knowledge of the Executive and the Legislative Arm of the Rivers State Government, the flagrant looting of Ahoada East Local Government Area Council and complicity in criminalities including inter-party crisis by Chief Cassidy Ikegbidi. These issues have become recurrent as several acts and abuse of office have been petitioned to the government of Rivers State, but Chief Cassidy O.W. Ikegbidi has been unrelenting in looting.
Fraud and Misappropriation of Funds
Against the report of the Committee of Ethics and Privileges of the Rivers State House of Assembly, which indicted the Ahoada East Local Government Council Chairman Chief Cassidy O. Ikegbidi of financial impropriety in the sum of N1, 220,488,575.20 (One Billion Two Hundred and Twenty-Million Four Hundred and Eighty-Eight Thousand Five Hundred and Seventy-Five Naira, Twenty Kobo) arising from my earlier petition dated 24th January 2012. Chief Cassidy O.W. Ikegbidi in aid of Ahoada East Legislative Council has continued to loot the council’s funds. Similar issues of fraud in the amount of N19, 000,000.00 (Nineteen Million Naira) had pitched the Executive Council Chairman and his Deputy Chairman, leading to impeachment of the Deputy Chairman.
The Ahoada East Local Government Council in the year 2012 received an amount in excess of N2, 000,000,000.00 (Two Billion Naira) from the Federated Revenue Account, Excess Crude, IGR and no single project can be identified to be executed. However, within the same period of January to December 2012 private properties and assets t the tune of over N800, 000,000.00 (Eight Hundred Million Naira) has been acquired by Chief Cassidy O.W. Ikegbidi. Some of his private collections in the year 2012 are as follows;
1. A N150, 000, 000.00 (One Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) Housing
Project at Chief Cassidy O.W. Ikegbidi’s Hometown Ihugbogo.
2. South Point Hotel Ahoada acquired and being reconstructed.
3. Housing Estates Projects along Civil Defense Road Ahoada.
4. Mercedes Benz M-Class Series.
5. Range Rover Sports HSE.
6. Expanded Fish Farm Projects at Ihugbogo.
Complicit y in Inter -Party Crisis and Insecurity in Ahoada East Local Government Area
Chief Cassidy O. W. Ikegbidi is known to have held meetings with Chief Felix Obua (alias Goround) with discussions centered on the Court action against the Rivers State Chairman & Executive of the Peoples Democratic Party (POP). Information available to me reveals that Chief Cassidy O. Ikegbidi gave the sum of N1, 000,000.00 (One Million Naira) to Chief Felix Obua (alias Goround) in support of his Court action against The Rivers State Executive of the POP in Abuja. Also in his effort at destabilizing the POP in Ahoada East he recently sponsored the imposition of Hon. Malvin C. Udo a non-POP Member Councilor to ascend into the office of The Leader of Ahoada East Legislative Council.
The Rt. Hon. Speaker, it is verifiable that Ahoada East Local Government Area has experienced increased activities of armed robberies, kidnappings and assassinations from the year 2008 to date. This is informed to be attributed to complicity of the Executive Chairman Chief Cassidy O.W. Ikegbidi’s close contacts with criminals operating between Ahoada, Omoku and Elele resulting from his trade as a Native Doctor and Herbalist. The recent arrest of Mr Nyenye Ehie, a notorious armed robber and kidnapping kingpin in the residence of Chief Cassidy O. W. Ikegbidi at Ihugbogo by the combined team of JTF in the year 2012, confirmed his complacency.
The Rt. Hon. Speaker, based on the foregoing I wish to endear you to similar complaints of misappropriation of funds by the Elder Statesmen of Ahoada East Council of Chiefs as contained in their letter addressed to Chief Cassidy O.W. Ikegbidi dated September 24th 2010 and pray the following;
1. A probe / investigation of Financial Misappropriation by Chief Cassidy O.W. Ikegbidi and his Deputy.
2. A probe / investigation of Complicity of Chief Cassidy O. Ikegbidi in incidents of kidnappings and assassinations in Ahoada East Local Government Area.
3. A probe / investigation of the Complicity of Ahoada East Legislative Council in the Financial Misappropriation of Council Funds.
4. A probe / investigation of Chief Cassidy O. W. Ikegbidi in the complicity of the Court Action against the State Chairman and Executive of the PDP.
5. The suspension of the Council Chairman and his Deputy if found wanting on any of the above counts.
6. The dissolution of the Ahoada East Local Government Council Executive / Legislators if complicit in the allegations of Financial Impropriety.
Fears are that even if the lawmakers do a thorough job, Rivers’ Governor, Chibuike Amaechi may shield Chief Ikegbidi from sack and possible prosecution.
According to sources, Chief Ikegbidi is very close to Hon Tony Okocha, Chief-of-staff of Government House-a close confident of the Governor.
We also learnt that the Ahoada East boss is often in close contact with the leader of the Rivers State House Assembly, Hon Chidi Lloyd to help him douse such ugly reports.
Those who know Hon Lloyd however have said, Mr. Lloyd would not help anyone from facing the music if he is confirmed to have looted the treasury.
But opinion polls have already scored the lawmakers high for even re-visiting the documents and called on them not to disappoint Rivers people.
The report of the Ahoada East financial recklessness and misappropriation is very clear. Those who spoke to us have confirmed.
You would recall that the Rivers State House of Assembly on it’s sitting on 17th of July 2012, was divided as members of the House experienced heated argument over the petition bordering on fraud against Ahoada-East Local Government Council Chairman, High Chief Cassidy Ikegbidi.
In a shameless manner, some members of the House argued that the petition, which was tendered since February 2012, did not pass through the right procedures in the house. The debate by the lawmakers revealed that the petition was forwarded to the office of the Speaker and the speaker minuted it to Hon. Ewor Robinson. Their bone of contention was that Hon. Ewor Robinson is one personality different from his office as the Chairman of the Committee on Ethics and Privileges.
The Reformer gathered that Hon. Augustine Paul Ngo representing Abua/Odual constituency pointed out that so far, the petition did not meet the requirements, stating that the petitioner did not comply with the procedures of the house. He added that the petition was not addressed to the house and also lacking in a prayer.
He argued that the petition must follow due process by passing through the house and suggested that it be withdrawn so it can be brought to the floor of the house and the committee on ethics and privileges be mandated to investigate and come up with another report.
Some members such as Hon. Banibo Anabraba, Hon. Andrew Miller, Hon Aye Pepple supported the argument.
The report, we gathered, had been there for some time and the committee had concluded their investigations and even came up with a report which was adopted by the house, and queried why the issue of due process should come up at this stage.
After much speaking in tongues by members of the house, it was obvious that confusion had set in. At this stage a motion for the adjournment of the debate on the issue was moved by Hon. Horsefall and was supported. Debate on the petition was adjourned sine-die.
Angered by this development, a cross section of Rivers people said they were watching how the fraud allegation would be handled.