Supreme Court Orders Amaechi to Face Trial Over Alleged N96bn Fraud

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THE Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an appeal by Rotimi Amaechi, former Minister of Transportation, seeking to stop his probe in an alleged N96 billion fraud.

Justice Adamu Jauro, who led the seven-member panel of justices, while delivering judgment, dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit.

The apex court affirmed the judgments of the High Court of Rivers and that of the Court of Appeal which had earlier dismissed same suit for want of substance and merit.

The court also asked the former minister to pay the respondents N1 million.

Mr Amaechi had approached the Supreme Court praying for an order of the court to prohibit his successor, Governor Nyesom Wike, from investigating his eight-year tenure as executive governor of Rivers.

The former governor, represented by Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), said the probe was aimed at witch-hunting, embarrassing, humiliating and disgracing him in view of his political differences with his successor.

The probe is for Amaechi to give account of how N96 billion was allegedly withdrawn from the treasury of the state government and how it was spent during his tenure.

Governor Wike had instituted a commission of inquiry to look into alleged sale of valuable assets of the state during Amaechi’s tenure as governor.

The listed assets are Omoku Gas Turbine, Afam Gas Turbine, Trans Amadi Gas Turbine, Eleme Gas Turbine, Olympia Hotel and the award of contract for the execution of Mono Rail Project.

Amaechi is a presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Under Nigeria’s Constitution, if indicted by the Rivers State Panel of Inquiry, the former minister will be ineligible for election as President.

Section 137 of the Constitution says a person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if:

(a) subject to the provisions of section 28 of this Constitution, he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a country other than Nigeria or, except in such cases as may be prescribed by the National Assembly, he has made a declaration of allegiance to such other country; or

(b) he has been elected to such office at any two previous elections; or

(c) under the law in any part of Nigeria, he is adjudged to be a lunatic or otherwise declared to be of unsound mind; or

(d) he is under a sentence of death imposed by any competent court of law or tribunal in Nigeria or a sentence of imprisonment or fine for any offence involving dishonesty or fraud (by whatever name called) or for any other offence, imposed on him by any court or tribunal or substituted by a competent authority for any other sentence imposed on him by such a court or tribunal; or

(e) within a period of less than ten years before the date of the election to the office of President he has been convicted and sentenced for an offence involving dishonesty or he has been found guilty of the contravention of the Code of Conduct; or

(f) he is an undischarged bankrupt, having been adjudged or otherwise declared bankrupt under any law in force in Nigeria or any other country; or

(g) being a person employed in the civil or public service of the Federation or of any State, he has not resigned, withdrawn or retired from the employment at least thirty days before the date of the election; or

(h) he is a member of any secret society; or

(i) he has been indicted for embezzlement or fraud by a Judicial Commission of Inquiry or an Administrative Panel of Inquiry or a Tribunal set up under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act, a Tribunals of Inquiry Law or any other law by the Federal or State Government which indictment has been accepted by the Federal or State Government, respectively.

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