A former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, says he is not on trial over corruption allegations against him by the Rivers State Government.
Mr Amaechi’s position comes on the heels of Friday’s Supreme Court judgement which dismissed the former minister’s appeal against the Rivers State government. The Rivers government under Governor Nyesom Wike had set up a judicial commission of inquiry to probe some transactions during Mr Amaechi’s regime as Rivers governor.
On Friday, a five-member panel of the Supreme Court led by Olukayode Ariwoola, while dismissing Mr Amaechi’s appeal marked SC/911/2017, held that the mandate of the commission of inquiry was not to investigate the appellant (Mr Amaechi) in person.
“The gist of this decision is to the effect that the commission of inquiry was to investigate some transactions, hence no one was on trial, hence the issue of denial of fair hearing, therefore, does not arise,” Adamu Jauro, who read the judgement, said.
Mr Jauro, a Supreme Court justice, awarded N1 million cost against Mr Amaechi.
But Mr Amaechi, while reacting to the judgment, said the apex court’s pronouncement further vindicated his position that the probe by the commission should not be seen as personal to him because he was not on trial.
In a statement by Mr Amaechi’s media office on Friday, the presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC), said, “Nigeria’s apex court today ruled on the Appeal filed by Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi against the Rivers State Government on the Justice Omereji Judicial Commission of Inquiry.”
“The Supreme Court in dismissing the appeal however pronounced that the function of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry was mere investigative, that nobody, neither Amaechi nor anyone else, was on trial before the panel,” the statement clarified.
“The Supreme Court ruling clearly vindicates the former Governor of Rivers State. The apex court was categorical and clear that (Mr) Amaechi was not on trial.
“The implication of this is that any indictment from the Commission is null and void and cannot stand.
“With this judgment, Amaechi has been vindicated and cleared him of all purported or alleged indictment by the Governor Wike’s Commission,” the statement added.
In 2015, shortly after becoming governor, Mr Wike inaugurated a judicial panel to investigate the administration of his predecessor, Mr Amaechi.
Mr Amaechi refused to appear before the panel and challenged its existence at a high court.
In its August 15 judgment, the judge, Simeon Amadi, ruled that the judicial commission of inquiry was not established to investigate the personal activities of the former governor, but set up to investigate the previous actions of the government as they affect the people of Rivers State.
Mr Amaechi challenged the judgement of the Rivers High Court.
Similarly, the Court of Appeal held that the probe panel was not set up to investigate Mr Amaechi’s personal activities while he was governor.
This newspaper reported that Mr Wike, a former member of the Amaechi administration who later fell out with his boss, accused Mr Amaechi and other officials of that government of stealing properties belonging to the government.
He vowed to recover them.
Mr Amaechi denied the allegation and said the governor’s mission is to tarnish his image.
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