Govt protests alleged plan to change charges against lawmaker
With Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) operatives visiting Port Harcourt to quiz the detained Majority Leader of the House of Assembly, the crisis in Rivers State seems to be taking a new shape.
The deployment of EFCC operatives, to observers of the political row, signposts a breakdown of the ongoing reconciliation talks between President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Rotimi Amaechi.
A source in the state said the coming of the EFCC operatives was a ploy to implicate Amaechi and pave the way for his impeachment .
But the EFCC yesterday said its operatives were in Rivers State as part of an ongoing investigation.
It was gathered that the EFCC operatives stormed Port Harcourt at the weekend to look into the financial activities of the state government and House of Assembly.
The operatives reportedly made Lloyd’s police detention camp their first port of call.
For about two hours, the operatives interrogated Lloyd on some financial transactions between the Executive and the Legislature.
A source in the anti-graft commission said: “We are looking into allegations of diversion of public funds, outright graft and financial crimes against Lloyd and some public officials in Rivers State.
“I cannot give you the details to avoid disclosures which could prejudice ongoing investigation because our operatives just got to Rivers State.
“Already, the operatives have met with Chidi Lloyd at the facility where he is being detained. They are going to interact with other officials connected with allegations against Lloyd.
“It is not a personal thing against Lloyd; if nothing is found against him, we will let the public know.”
The Rivers State Government yesterday raised the alarm over the Federal Government’s “desperation” to take over Lloyd’s prosecution through the EFCC.
It alleged that the operatives of the EFCC were acting on the instructions of two prominent citizens involved in the crisis to change Lloyd’s charge from attempted murder.
The Amaechi administration also accused the Federal Government of playing dirty, stressing that attempted murder, the allegation with which Lloyd has been charged, is under the state’s purview.
Commissioner for Information and Communications Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, said: “The Federal Government is playing dirty. They have brought in the EFCC to interrogate and investigate the House of Assembly’s Leader, Hon. Chidi Lloyd (a lawyer, who represents Emohua constituency).
“They want to take over the prosecution by ulterior means and so plan to change the charge from attempted murder, which is under the state’s purview, to EFCC.
“They have planted something in Hon. Chidi Llyod’s house, which would be against the governor.”
A government source said: “They have designed a plot to detain Lloyd perpetually. With this, it is apparent that they intend to arrest other members of the G-27 who are loyal to Amaechi.
“Since they failed to impeach Amaechi with five lawmakers, they have opted the ambush method by framing up Lloyd and the 26 lawmakers in the state.
“Once they are able to arrest the 27 lawmakers, the five pro-Minister Nyesom Wike’s lawmakers can then sit and impeach Amaechi.”
Another source spoke of some stakeholders being against the reconciliation plans between the President and Amaechi.
“It is clear that the so-called peace talks were mere shadow chasing to gauge the mind of the governor,” the source said.
EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren said: “Some of our operatives are in Rivers State over an ongoing investigation. I think there is a link to the Majority Leader Chidi Lloyd.
“But the operation is not just a Port Harcourt or Rivers State thing; it is about investigation of some allegations in some states in the Southsouth.”
It was learnt that Amaechi summoned a meeting of the State Executive Council, obviously to discuss the latest development.
A third source added: “The governor has been meeting with his executive members on the invasion of the state by EFCC operatives.
“The governor and his team have nothing to hide but it is evident that the EFCC is falling into a trap of being used for political vengeance.”
Read more: The Nation