By Tunde Adetunji, Abuja.
The ownership claim made for the N13 billion recovered from a luxury flat in Ikoyi, Lagos State resonated on Thursday in the Senate when the Senator representing Rivers East Senatorial District, George Thompson Sekibo, reiterated that the money belonged to the State government.
The Rivers government and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) have both made claims for the cash for which anti-graft agency which recovered the loot, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has maintained a studied silence as a Lagos court awaits claimants to prove ownership.
Sekibo wanted the Senate to investigate its ownership, but Senator Ile Ekweremadu who presided over the Upper Legislative Chamber, ruled that since the House of Representatives had initiated its own investigations, it should be allowed to finish its work.
Symbolically blowing a physical whistle on the floor of the Senate, Sekibo said the Rivers government has raised previous alarms to recover loots allegedly stolen by the immediate past administration in the State.
“Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, I rise through order 43, to remind the Chamber on the circumstances surrounding the N13 billion in Osborne building in Lagos,” he said.
The EFCC found $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23,218,000 in an apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, but the Director-General of NIA, Ambassador Ayo Ole, and Rivers Governor, Barrister Nyesom Wike, made immediate claims. Oke said it was part of releases by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 for agency projects, while Wile insisted that it was allegedly looted by his immediate predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi, from the sale of state-owned turbines.
Oke was suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari, pending investigations by a panel headed by Vice President Yemi Osimbajo, and including National Security Adviser, Major-General Mohammed Monguno, who Ole reports to.