Former Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has said he was interrogated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged diversion of N17.5billion ecological funds and assets declaration breaches.
He gave the insights into the case against him in a statement issued following media reports about his interrogation by the EFCC on Tuesday.
PREMIUM TIMES reported earlier that Mr Dickson was interrogated at the EFCC’s headquarters in EFCC in Abuja over some corruption allegations, details of which were still sketchy as of press time.
Speaking about his encounter with EFCC interrogators in a statement on Tuesday, Mr Dickson said he was invited about two weeks ago by the commission to over a petition sent to the EFCC by a civil society group.
He said he was invited to clarify “some issues relating to assets declarations” but had to ask for a reschedule of the meeting for Tuesday.
Mr Dickson, however, expressed surprise that he was confronted with the case of alleged diversion of N17.5 billion ecological funds not contained in the EFCC invitation on Tuesday.
According to him, the commission accused him of funding his re-election in 2019 with the funds.
“However on getting to the commission, the investigating team came up with a new allegation of diversion of flood funds in 2012 totaling N17.5 billion. The petition further alleged that the money was used for my re-election in 2019. The fact is that there was no such donation about the 2012 flood in Bayelsa.
“Curiously, there was no mention of donor or where the money came from. There was also no re-election for governorship in Bayelsa in 2019 which are clear proofs that the petition was totally frivolous,” Mr Dickson said in a statement shared with PREMIUM TIMES by his spokesperson, Fidelis Soriwei.
Assets declaration issue
The alleged assets declaration issue, according to him, relates to investments of his family trust, which he incorporated while being a member of the House of Representatives.
He said the family trust referred to as Seriake Dickson Trust was incorporated to hold his family assets and investments which were made between 1996 and 2012 before I became governor.
Denying any wrongdoing, Mr Dickson said he incorporated the family trust between 1996 and 2012 before becoming governor, adding that the investments were “funded by loans and advances and repaid from salaries, allowances, savings and others”.
According to him, the investments were declared in his assets declaration form as a member of the House of Representatives in 2011; as governor, in 2012, 2016, 2020, and as senator in 2021.
“One of them is still on mortgage and I have made these documents available to the EFCC,” he said.
He said he resigned from the Trust Administration since 2011 before he became governor.
He also said he had obtained a subsisting Federal High Court judgment “declaring that no Nigerian law is breached by a public officer who takes loans and other verifiable avenues to make investments for his family provided these are declared.”
In addition to providing documents to EFCC, Mr Dickson said his lawyers had those of the trust had written to the EFCC “to clarify these issues with the accompanying documents.”
The ex-governor denied any wrongdoing and confirmed he had since returned home after his encounter with the EFCC.
Read Seriake Dickson’s full statement
MY FAMILY ASSETS WERE ACQUIRED IN 2007 WITH LOANS
…REPEATED DECLARATIONS MADE TO CCB BEFORE I BECAME GOV – DICKSON
… SAYS PETITION WAS FRIVOLOUS
About two weeks ago I received an invitation from the EFCC to clarify some issues relating to assets declarations as alleged by an NGO.
On account of our busy schedule at the time, I wrote to inform them and we agreed to reschedule the interview for today.
As a law abiding citizen and with a life long commitment to supporting law enforcement and security agencies, I honored the invitation today as rescheduled. I understand that the subject matter of the inquiry relates to investments of my family trust, which I incorporated while being a member of the House of Reps to hold my family assets and investments which were made between 1996 and 2012 before I became governor.
I understand that there is a petition from an NGO alleging that these investments (largely buildings, plots, farms, etc in my village, Orua, Yenagoa, and two buy-to-let houses in the UK) were not declared. I have a duty to clarify these issues with the investigating authorities who by law have the responsibility to inquire into these matters.
However, for the avoidance of doubts, let me state that my family investments, Seriake Dickson Trust Incorporated were made between 1996 and 2012 before I became Governor.
These investments were funded by loans and advances and repaid from salaries, allowances, savings and others. One of them is still on mortgage and I have made these documents available to the EFCC.
These investments were declared in my assets declaration form at the House of Reps in 2011; my Governorship form in 2012, 2016, 2020 after I left office and the Senate Assets declaration form this year.
I went beyond these declarations and wrote several letters to the appropriate agencies, copies of which have been made available to the EFCC. My trust and I subscribed to the federal government Voluntary Assets Income AND Declaration Scheme (VAIDES) and also paid the necessary taxes.
As a result of blackmail from some quarters, the Trust and I went to the Federal High Court where there is a subsisting judgement declaring that no Nigerian law is breached by a public officer who takes loans and other verifiable avenues to make investments for his family provided these are declared.
It should be on record that I have since resigned from the Trust Administration since 2011 before I became Governor.
My solicitors and those of the trust have written to the EFCC to clarify these issues with the accompanying documents.
However on getting to the commission, the investigating team came up with a new allegation of diversion of flood funds in 2012 totaling N17.5 billion. The petition further alleged that the money was used for my re-election in 2019. The fact is that there was no such donation about the 2012 flood in Bayelsa.
Curiously, there was no mention of donor or where the money came from. There was also no re-election for governorship in Bayelsa in 2019 which are clear proofs that the petition was totally frivolous.
The commission after looking into these allegations have since asked me to return home on self recognition.
I have authorized this statement to be released for the avoidance of any misinformation.
Senator Henry Seriake Dickson
Senator representing Bayelsa West in the National Assembly
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