EFCC storms Rivers, quizzes Lloyd

OPERATIVES  of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission stormed Rivers State on Monday and started quizzing public office holders in the state over a yet-to-be mentioned financial impropriety.
Already, the EFCC investigators had quizzed the embattled Majority Leader of the state House of Assembly, Chidi Lloyd, over the finances of the House, our correspondents learnt.
Lloyd was said to have been quizzed at the police detention facility where the lawmaker had been detained on charges of attempted murder.
A High Court sitting in Ahoada, Rivers State, however, granted bail to the Majority Leader on Monday, after two weeks in police detention following the fracas on the floor of the state House of Assembly.
Lloyd had sued the IG, demanding N50bn damages for the violation of his fundamental human rights, wrongful arrest and detention.
While the court admitted the Assembly Majority Leader to bail, it will deliver judgment on the damages on August 14.
Lloyd was said to have been questioned by the anti-graft operatives on how Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, had been financing the House.
The lawmaker is a known ally of the governor who has been embroiled in a prolonged face-off with the Presidency as well as the Peoples Democratic Party in his state.
Details of the encounter between the EFCC interrogators and Lloyd and others said to have been quizzed were not known as of press time, but sources said that the anti-graft agency was interested in the financial statement of the House.
Apart from that, it was gathered that the operatives asked questions on the funding of the House by the state Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi.
Acting Head, Media, at the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed the arrival of the agency’s men in Rivers, saying there was no need to inform the public through the media that anti-graft operatives were in town.
“I just confirmed that our operatives are actually in the state over an ongoing investigation that involved Lloyd and others in the South-South states. No details now because we don’t want to conduct the investigation on the pages of newspapers,” Uwujaren said.
The Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Leyii Kwanee, described the action of the EFCC as part of the plan to persecute Lloyd.
Kwanee, who spoke in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, explained that Lloyd’s interrogation by the EFCC had shown that the police had no case against the Majority Leader of the House.
 “I have stated on several occasions that Chidi Lloyd is only being persecuted politically. If you see the dimension of the EFCC, you would begin to understand that Lloyd is being persecuted because of his support for the performing governor of the state,” the deputy speaker said.
But the leader of the five anti-Rotimi Amaechi lawmakers, Mr. Evans Bipi, described Lloyd’s interrogation by the EFCC as a right step in the right direction.
Bipi recalled that he had called on the EFCC to investigate the management of the House of Assembly funds by probing the leadership of the state legislature, including the Speaker, Mr. Otelemaba Amachree.
He disagreed with the deputy speaker that Lloyd was being persecuted as a result of his (Lloyd) support for Amaechi.
He said, “It is a right step in the right direction because Lloyd was part of the leadership of the state House of Assembly. The EFCC should interrogate him very well. Lloyd should be able to explain how the funds of the House were managed.
“What the EFCC is doing is not persecution. It (EFCC) is only carrying out its responsibility. Otelemaba Amachree should also be invited and interrogated.”
Meanwhile, the Rivers PDP on Monday kicked against the bail granted the lawmaker by the Ahoada court. It described the bail granted by Justice Charles Wali as a “travesty of justice.”
The party in a statement by the Special Adviser to its chairman, Mr. Jerry Needam, described the court ruling as a vindication of the fears expressed by the party.
“This is a vindication of our fears and alarm that Hon. Michael Chindah cannot get justice in Rivers State,” the statement read.
Chindah, an anti-Amaechi member of the state assembly, was on July 9 battered, allegedly by Lloyd, during the fracas in the House.
Justice Wali granted the lawmaker bail after his (Lloyd) counsel, Mr. Emenike Ebete, moved an exparte motion, praying the court to grant him bail on health grounds.
The judge however directed that a motion of notice be served the Rivers State Police Command as well as Force Headquarters in Abuja on the latest development.
The Rivers PDP said the judge’s ruling was a contradiction of the ongoing sanitisation of the judiciary by the National Judicial Council.
The party queried the logic behind the bail in a case that was already before another judge in Port Harcourt, which had adjourned till Tuesday, August 6, 2013.
It described the bail order by the Ahoada High Court as a plot to drag and further implicate the state judiciary in a clear criminal case of attempted murder.
The party said, “This has confirmed its earlier claim and fears that Governor Amaechi and his cohorts are doing all within their power, using his office to want to let Chidi Lloyd off the hook while his victim, Michael Chinda, is dying in a London hospital.
“Why run to far away Ahoada when the offence for which Hon. Lloyd was arrested for was committed in Port Harcourt.
“The presence of Amaechi’s Commissioner for Agriculture and top aides of the Governor  (of  Rivers State) in court today was premeditated to set Chidi Lloyd free.
“The Ahoada High Court presided over by Justice Charles Wali lacks jurisdiction to hear the matter, and above all, lacks the power to order the release of Chidi Lloyd in a criminal case that the suspect was not before him and plea not taken.”

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