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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

N4bn loan: Rivers panel summons ex-chairmen

The judicial commission of inquiry investigating the administration of former governor Rotimi Amaechi over the sale of assets and other matters has summoned ex-council chairmen and a former Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Emmanuel Chinda, to appear before it on Friday, August 28, 2015.

The commission had alleged that those invited to appear before it were involved in the purported diversion of N2bn being part of a N4bn agric loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
However, the former commissioner for agriculture had gone to the Rivers State High Court, on Tuesday, seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the commission and the Commissioner of Police from inviting, arresting or requiring him to appear before the panel.
 
Following the non-appearance of Chinda and the former council chairmen at Tuesday’s sitting of the panel, the Chairman of the commission of inquiry, Justice George Omeriji, directed that they appear before the panel on August 28 or risk being arrested by the police.
 
Omeriji also directed that the commission’s directive summoning the former council chairmen and the ex-agric commissioner should be published in the state-owned newspaper, Nigerian Tide.
He said:
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“It is very clear that all the persons mentioned above have failed to appear before this commission to give evidence or tender any document to enable the commission to come up with the truth of the matter.
“I have also considered the prayers of the counsel for the commission, urging the commission to ensure that the persons mentioned above appear before this commission.
“This commission is a disciplined commission. I have decided not to involve the police yet in the service of the summons on the persons mentioned above. The commission has decided to accept the alternative prayer of the counsel and is, hereby, making the following order:
“There shall be a publication in the Nigerian Tide, summoning all the above-mentioned persons to appear before the commission on Friday, August 28, 2015. And this publication is to be taken as adequate notice to the persons to appear before the commission on August 28, 2015,” Omeriji said.
However, the former commissioner for Agriculture, who is one of those allegedly involved in the diversion of the CBN’s Agric loan, prayed the Rivers State High Court to restrain the panel, which is the (1st respondent), and four others, from summoning, arresting and requesting him to appear before it.
Chinda, through his counsel, Mr. Ken Asuwete, also urged the court to declare that the respondents violated his constitutional right to fair hearing provided by Section 36 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 as amended.
 
Chinda stated:
“A declaration that the respondents had unlawfully tried, adjudged and condemned the applicant in the media from as early as 7am of Friday the 21st day of August 2015, without serving the requisite summons and all processes of complaint or memoranda as required by law.
“A declaration that the counsel to the commission deliberately failed to inform the commission that no attempt known to law was explored before the media was surreptitiously engage to publish the name of the applicant in a way and manner that has defamed his character before he is to appear before the commission.”


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