By Francis Igata
With the renewed vigour showed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, an Enugu based lawyer and former National Auditor, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,Mr. Ray Nnaji, in this interview, alleges that former Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State has questions to answer on how he ran the state’s finances. This is coming on the heels of preliminary investigation conducted by the EFCC on some aides of the former governor. Excerpts…
May we know why you petitioned the EFCC?
I petitioned the EFCC when I observed what was going on in the state under former Governor Barrister Sullivan Chime. I was still carrying out my investigation when the House of Assembly under Speaker Eugene Odo came out with a proposal to impeach him listing some impeachable offences including alleged forgery of the supplementary budget.
I heard the governor in the media where he was trying to put up a defense without knowing he was admitting it. He said that what he did to the budget was to change some figures from one sector to the other, but when you do that to such a document, forgery can be alleged. When the budget is signed, not even a coma can be touched; to do that, you must go back to the Assembly.
That was where I took it up in addition to other things I discovered; the other things I discovered inlude that, at that time, he was hurriedly putting finishing touches to M-Line, which was the official quarters of the Attorney-General of the state. When he became Attorney-General, in his characteristic manner, he believed he will be the last person to hold that position in the state; that is why he decided to seek for the monetization of the place. So when he applied for the monetization under Governor Chimaroke Nnamani, it was given to him but he was unable to pay. So when he became governor, he was said to have allocated the place to himself and further acquired other land in that place and expanded it.
So what happened to the petition you wrote to the EFCC?
I made it known to the public, in 2008, when I believed he was after me and even declared me wanted. So when I petitioned the EFCC, he employed the same tactics he used in 2008; he chased me with the Attorney-General and the police; they called me on phone asking me to come to the state CID over a petition but they refused to disclose the petitioner. I wrote and copied everybody that mattered that he was after me again. I also went to court and, luckily, the court gave an order restraining the police from harassing me and that was why I could move freely.
When I found out that the EFCC was not forthcoming, I filed an application for judicial review, asking the court to mandate the EFCC, the Code of Conduct Bureau, Revenue Mobilization Commission, Accountant General of Enugu, to do their duties because I made a request to that effect and nothing had happened. I first of all sought leave of the court which was granted on July 2, 2015 and I have filed the substantive application. But what is holding the matter now is that the court is on vacation because that order for leave attached to the motion, which I must serve on all the parties, was yet to be signed by the judge before he went on vacation. So I am waiting for the judge; once he returns from vacation, it will be signed, then I will serve them and the matter will commence.
The EFCC invited me and, for two hours, I was able to x-ray most of the things I am telling you now. So the EFCC assured me they would do something but, up till now, I have not seen him invited when other governors are being questioned. That’s the dilemma we are in now but my suit will take care of everything.
But some people believe that the governor did well and that you may be on a vendetta mission?
I am not pursuing this matter to witch hunt; I am doing this because it is incumbent on anyone who is serving the public to render account of his stewardship. I have served; the only thing is that I have never been a governor; I was a local government Chairman in 1997 before Sullivan could think of becoming anything. I am a founding member of the PDP and I served in the highest echelon of the party, I was a National Auditor. I cannot keep quiet seeing things going wrong in the party; these are part of the things that made our party to lose election.
When you see somebody doing bad you must expose that person. On all these things I am saying, let Sullivan come out and say I am telling lies; then we will start from there. Anybody who has served the public should be willing to give account of his stewardship. Look at the situation of Enugu, a debt of over N68bn and the governor is grappling to meet up with financial obligations of the state. Is that how a governor should hand over? Anyone saying it is witch hunting is not even helping the state because we cannot allow such a thing to happen and we shut our mouth.
So what do you want to achieve? Send him to jail?
No, going to jail is not for me to decide; and that is why I added the Attorney General as a party to that suit; and one of the reliefs is for the court to direct the Attorney General to give me a fiat, written authority to prosecute Sullivan Chime if, at the end of the day, the EFCC is reluctant or refuse to prosecute him. As a lawyer, I have the right to a fiat; court orders it; they must give me a fiat and you see me prosecuting him. So it’s not my duty to determine if he will go to jail; my duty is to present; I am not persecuting, I am prosecuting; I am not going back on this. I will see it to the end for others to learn a lesson.
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