The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has claimed ownership of the N13bn ($43.4m, N23m and £27,000) seized by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, from the seventh floor of the Osborne Towers, located in Ikoyi, Lagos.
The National Intelligence Agency, NIA, had stated that the money belonged to it, adding that it had written a formal letter to President Muhammadu Buhari to claim ownership of the money.
A source in the agency was reported as explaining that the money was approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan for covert operations and security projects covering a period of years.
But dismissing this claim by the NIA, the Rivers Governor disclosed on Friday night that his predecessor and the current Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, kept the money in the luxury apartment.
He said the $43m was part of the proceeds from the sale of a gas turbine by the immediate past administration, adding that the gas turbine was initially built by the Peter Odili administration.
As such, the Rivers Governor went on to hand the Federal Government a seven-day ultimatum to return the money to the state government or be ready to face legal action.
Speaking with newsmen in Port Harcourt, he challenged the Federal Government to set up a commission of inquiry to probe the source of the huge money found in the flat, insisting that the funds belonged to Rivers people and should be returned to the owners within seven days.
Wike said, “All these things they are saying that the $43m belong to the Nigerian Intelligence Agency is balderdash. When did the NIA begin to keep money in houses? As I speak to you now, the Federal Government is so embarrassed.
“I want the President to set up a commission of inquiry. We don’t want to fight anybody; they should set up a commission of inquiry or return our money within seven days. If they don’t, we will take all necessary legal actions and NIA will come and prove where they got the money from.
“The $43m is the proceeds of the sale of the gas turbine sold by the immediate past administration. The gas turbine was built by the (Peter) Odili administration. It (gas turbine) was sold to Sahara Energy.
“The turbine was sold for $319m. But as of May 2015, what was in the account was $204,000. We will avail ourselves and we will be present at the commission of inquiry expected to be set up by the Federal Government. If we are invited, we will come. There is no contradiction in this at all, but I know they (FG) will not agree.”
The Governor maintained that he would complete the monorail project if the Federal Government returned the $43m to Rivers State, adding that it would be “projects galore” in the state should the money be returned back to its original owner.
“Part of the money from the sale of the gas turbine was used to fund the All Progressives Congress campaign. We are telling the world that the money belongs to us. If they (FG) give us the money, I will complete the monorail project,” he said.