Detectives quiz suspects over alleged illegal sale of vessel in Rivers
Posted by News Express | 24 September 2021 | 630 times
By ODITA SUNDAY, Abuja
Detectives from the police high command, Abuja have stormed Port-Harcourt to interrogate suspected officials that were fingered in alleged illegal sale of a vessel in Rivers State.
The senior police officers from Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID), Force headquarters, Abuja, acting on directives from the Inspector-General of Police, were in the state for three days to interview top government officials but they reportedly absconded from their respective offices within that period after receiving official information from the police.
However, It was alleged that two of them that eventually showed up said they were not aware of the controversial sale of the vessel.
The owner of the vessel, MT Okiki, Dr. Henry Okey Obi had alleged that top government officials in connivance with some businessmen sold the vessel worth N600 million without his knowledge.
But the state government claimed it only carried out an order of a competent court in the sale. Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Professor Zaccheus Adango, said it only carried out the order of an environmental sanitation court sitting in Port-Harcourt, which ordered the removal of the wreckage of MT Okiki from waterways.
He said: “The action was based on subsisting order of the court and provisions of the Rivers State Environmental Protection and Management Law 3, 2019. If any act of illegality was committed in the course of implementing the court order, those responsible should be held to account. The office of the Attorney-General has not done anything unlawful.”
However, police sources said one of the officials, who was grilled for about 10 hours confessed that he did not advertise in any print media or radio house for the owner of the vessel to appear, rather, he alleged that it was one Solomon Chukwu (the owner of Bio-Keff Nig Ltd), who told him that the vessel was a wreck, that they needed to sell it since the owner is no more.
Sources said he stated unequivocally that he did not go to verify this nor inspect the vessel, rather he ordered for them to sell it in connivance with a former commissioner in the state.
According to the sources, he also said no money was paid to the Rivers State account and that he didn’t receive any proceeds from the sale.
It was also gathered that a lawyer in the ministry alleged that top government officials did not follow due process in selling the vessel.
It was learnt that the court order they got was to first, identify wrecks and then go back to court to report, then the court can give them order to salvage and sell them, but none of this process was followed, prompting the official to ask his police interrogators for mercy and soft landing.
Based on this, according to sources, all the government officials mentioned have been invited to report at the force headquarters, Abuja for further interrogation. (The Guardian)