Soboma Jackrich, the founder of the Civil Society Organisation, The Network for Defence of Democracy and Good Governance (NDDG) on Wednesday denied allegations that he was recruited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to mount pressure on the Rivers State Government over alleged withdrawal of N118bn by some of its officials.
The ex-militant explained that his group took up the matter as part of its mandate of holding the government and other public officers accountable.
He further insisted that there must be transparency in the deployment of public resources.
Jackrich who served as a Caretaker Committee Chairman of Degema Local Government Area during governor Nyesom Wike’s first tenure said the group was disturbed that the government had yet to explain its involvement in the withdrawal.
Governor Wike had slammed the commission for investigating the state, saying that the money it withdrew was state government’s money.
But speaking in Degema, Jackrich said relying on the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FoI), NDDG comprising notable stakeholders wrote to the government demanding vital explanations on the matter.
He said the government’s reply to the EFCC that the commission was barred by a court judgement from investigating the financial transactions of the state amounted to begging the question.
He said they were not bothered about the injunctive order against the EFCC but were concerned about the damming report, which cast doubts on the financial integrity of the state government.
“Recently a publication, which may be described as damning was made by a major national newspaper alleging that there were some financial irregularities to the tune of N118bn involving agents of the government and the government of Rivers state itself either jointly or severally.
“We state that contrary to some diversionary narratives against our questions, we are not sponsored by anyone including the EFCC as some have mischievously alluded. The questions we have asked are stakeholders’ questions devoid of malice. There is nothing wrong in asking questions because they are fundamentally a right to do so. To not do so Is injustice and wicked.
“The way to go is for the Rivers state government to come out clean and explain to the public its own side of the story in the spirit of both fair hearing and stewardship because the government holds all public funds in trust.
“The attitude of being defensive holding the injunctive order as a shield barring the government from explaining these questions on probity gives a rational mind and the unsuspecting public the choice of thinking out loud to believe these allegations. This is very curious to say the least because this posturing by some government officials ostensibly forecloses the government from public confidence.
“The idea of blackmailing the founder of NDDGG, High Chief Sobomabo Jackrich is just too below the belt and primordial and so go to no issues. The NDDGG in several fora have commended the Governor of Rivers State His Excellency Nyesom Wike on laudable achievements in various areas but this does not mute us where the need arises for us to ask fundamental questions.
“The Rivers state government should responsibly give bit by bit verifiable and cogent explanations to these allegations raised by the EFCC. The intention here is nothing but transparency and probity in governance as per public funds and nothing more.
“The question now remains, is it wrong for accountability questions to be asked and what is wrong for the Rivers state government to answer the questions? How does asking accountability questions qualify a person or a group as an enemy of the state?”