According to the Information Commissioner, the Rivers State government has vowed that it would not release any of its officials to EFCC for investigation.
The anti-graft agency has been pressing to probe the alleged withdrawal of the sum of N118 billion spanning 2015 and 2018 under the administration of the state governor, Nyesom Wike.
The EFCC, in a section of the media, claimed that the Rivers State government had refused to release top officials for interrogation in connection with alleged cash withdrawals.
But in a statement on Monday, the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Paulinus Nsirim, said: “The state government will not release its officials to the EFCC for investigations until the commission approaches the court to set aside subsisting orders of perpetual injunction granted by various courts of competent jurisdiction restraining the EFCC from investigating or inquiring into the financial transactions of the Rivers State government, including its ministries, departments, and agencies.
“In view of these subsisting judgments, it would amount to an act of brazen illegality for the EFCC to insist on interrogating any official of the Rivers State government.”
Nsirim added: “No official of the Rivers State government would appear before the EFCC until the subsisting judgments in favour of the Rivers State government are set aside on appeal.
“Resorting to the media can only be described as cheap blackmail and witch-hunt to turn away public attention from the development strides in the state.
“This media trial that they engage in all the time will not take the place of our extant laws, no matter how hard they try.”
He urged the EFCC to stop playing to the gallery and pursue its war against corruption within the ambits of the law, noting that the Rivers State government was committed to the rule of law and could not be intimidated by the EFCC.
“Targeting Rivers State for this occasional media trial should be seen by the public for what it is – political witch-hunt,” the Information Commissioner declared.
In his own reaction, the deputy speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ehie Edison noted that a court of competent jurisdiction had in 2007, granted the Rivers State Government, a Perpetual Injunction, restraining the EFCC from investigating or inquiring into the financial transactions of the Rivers State Government.
According to the lawmaker, the violation of Perpetual Injunction amounts to contempt of Court.
He further argued that the Rivers State House of Assembly in her consistent oversight functions is satisfied with the prudent and transparent management of government funds/resources as evident in the overwhelming project delivery, infrastructure development, inter-government administration and social welfare.
Hon Edison appealed to the anti-graft agency to allow the Rivers State Government to concentrate in service delivery on the mandate given by the Rivers people, stressing that “we may not agree with the Law, but the law is the law and it is what the court says it is.