Governor Nyesom Wike’s Commissioner of Finance, Dr. Fred Kpakol who was suspended from office on Friday 12th February 2016 along side the Account General (AG) of the Rivers State has threatened to spill the beans if Governor Wike and his cronies continue to give false impression of the circumstances leading to his suspension.
Dr. Kpakol made this threat on two separate occasions. One was while addressing his supporters and sympathizers who visited him from his village.
According to our source, who himself was very furious and gave his name as Atukumi Legborsi, claimed he was one of those addressed and that Dr. Kpakol was lividly agitated by the insinuations making around.
Dr. Kpakol addressing them said: “this is why people don’t trust us politicians, once we get what we want, we change overnight and do away with them. Let us not kill ourselves because of what has happened.
The Governor has done his worst. I am surprised that Wike will treat those of us that suffered for him this way. He is now sure of his position so nobody has a say anymore”.
Reacting to the allegation that he was sacked because some funds disappeared, Dr Kpakol denied that. He said: “Anyone who said that is a thief and a liar from the pit of hell. The Governor called me on Tuesday and gave me an instruction that I should go and source for some money, N2.5billion cash from Zenith Bank and I said okay sir.
I went to the AG who is the proper person to do so and the AG gave his opinion. He said I should advise His Excellency that we should not draw such amount in cash now from Zenith Bank since we had drawn N4.5billion in cash from the same Bank in the last ten day. That CBN monitors the Banks and might question why Zenith Bank released N4.5billion cash like fourteen days earlier to the Rivers State Government and is releasing another N2.5billion cash so soon after.”
According to the Source, Dr. Kpakol and the Accountant General had on Thursday night advised Governor Wike that it would be inexpedient for Zenith Bank Port Harcourt to pay Rivers State Government a total of N7billion in cash in three weeks, especially in the face of the cashless policy. It would be suspect and unexplainable.
They also informed him that they could not approach other banks because that would either amount to a loan or an overdraft, which required approval from the House of Assembly and the House could not sit at the moment. Unfortunately for the Commissioner and the AG, they were unable to proffer an alternative way of raising the said cash, which Governor Wike needed urgently. It was their inability to proffer a solution that actually infuriated the Governor and he considered it an act of sabotage. Dr. Kpakol was quoted to have further said:
“It was when the Governor asked the AG ‘so what can we do and the AG said I don’t know for now your Excellency’ that he got very angry and began to shout. He said we wanted to sabotage him. That he told us since Tuesday to raise the money because he needed it this weekend and by Thursday night we were still telling him we didn’t know what to do. He turned to me and said I wanted to sabotage him because Magnus Abe is my brother. As I tried to explain he asked me to excuse him by leaving his presence and we left. I was surprised to hear the following day that myself and the AG had been suspended. Life will go on”
Late on Friday the 12th February 2016 after the Commissioners, including Dr. Kpakol had left the Government House where they had assembled in continuation of their celebration of the Supreme Court verdict, which the reason was given same Friday, Mr. Simeon Nwakaudu, Special Adviser to Governor Wike on electronic media announced the suspension of Dr Fred Kpakol, a development which came to Rivers people as a surprise. No official reason was given in the statement for the suspension.
Speaking officially to some staff of the Ministry of Finance and a few journalists who accosted him while leaving his office at the State Secretariat late Friday evening, Dr Fred Kpakol, who appeared downcast and dispirited, summoned courage to say “I feel very worried over this shocking development. I am as surprised as all of you here. I don’t really know what the issues are, but I hope it is not what I am thinking”
Continuing, he said: “I concede that His Excellency Chief Nyesom Wike has the right to hire and fire, but I also have the right to my integrity and reputation. As a responsible, highly educated and respected Rivers man, I find it appalling and totally unacceptable that my boss the Governor could jettison established channels of communication between us in favour of this embarrassing approach by using a mere S.A on Electronic Media who is not even a Rivers man to announce my so-called suspension on radio instead of the SSG especially when my boss had not uttered a word to me or established any accusation against me”.
Looking clearly exasperated, Dr Fred Kpakol spoke more vehemently when he said, “I have a reasonable expectation that my boss the Governor will reverse this so-called suspension. As I have said, I hope that it is not what I suspect it is, otherwise I will uncork all the cans of worms because my integrity is priceless. For prosperity sake, I won’t allow anything to be shrouded in secrecy and hang on my neck as I bow out in peace”
Meanwhile, there is an insinuation within the government circles that Dr. Fred, in collusion with the Accountant-General of Rivers State, in anticipation that the Supreme Court might throw out the Governor, “engineered one of the biggest frauds in the history of the Ministry of Finance when over N1.2 billion suddenly developed wings and disappeared” from the treasury, without traces, a day to the hearing of Governor WIke’s appeal at the Supreme Court.
However, some of our sources within the Government circles have revealed that with the threat issued by the suspended Commissioner of Finance to spill the beans, Governor Nyesom Wike has quickly commissioned the Secretary to the State Government, Hon. Kenneth Kobani who is from the same ethnic group as Dr. Kpakol to negotiate and persuade the aggrieved commissioner not to make any further public statements while they sought for a middle ground to resolve the issues amicably without raising any more sandals. Whichever way this goes, Rivers people would want to know whether, as alleged within the Government circles, the Commissioner of Finance swindled the State of N1.2billion or as claimed by the suspended commissioner, Governor Wike withdrew N4.5billion cash within fourteen day and requested for another cash of N2.5billon. This is especially in view of the speculations and accusations that Governor Wike had expended several billions of Naira to procure the controversial judgement from the Supreme Court.
In the face of these controversies and accounts as to the reason for the suspension, the least that Rivers people and indeed all Nigerians expect from the Government of Rivers State is a pronouncement of the official reason for the suspension of such an important and highly placed public official of Government, the Rivers State Commissioner of Finance. This will help to clear the air.
Also, these allegations and counter allegations place greater burden and call on the Banking Institutions to show and prove to Nigerians and the international community that Banks in Nigeria are not just paying lips service to the Fight against Corruption in the country. For instance, if the allegations that Zenith Bank released such volume of fund in cash to the Government of Rivers State, the least Rivers people would expect from Zenith Bank Plc is an apology and assurance that henceforth she would apply acceptable and best practices in dealing with the common wealth of the Rivers State, especially in releasing such volume of cash contrary to the CBN Cashless Policy. It is also a call on the anti graft agencies to be more proactive and effective.
Reporter, Port Harcourt Tide Newspaper