…former health, finance commissioners to face criminal trials
…factory could produce one billion syringes per annum
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has opened criminal prosecution of two indicted former commissioners in the state who allegedly had a hand or two in the collapse of a N34.5 billion state-owned auto-destruct syringe factory at Rumosi, Port Harcourt.
The governor has mandated the state attorney general, Zacchaeus Adango to “pursue criminal prosecution of M. Amenya Nwokoma, who was the project manager of IMI, Chamberlain Peterside (former Finance commissioner) and Samson Parker (former commissioner of Health) under former governor, Rotimi Amaechi.
He is acting on a soon-to-be published government White Paper on a judicial commission of inquiry raised last year, headed by Constance Green, a Justice, to investigate the management of funds at the IMI.
“Those indicted by the Justice Constance Green Judicial Commission of Inquiry on the embezzlement of the Integrated Medicals Industries (IMI) funds will face the full weight of the law. Once the White Paper is published, the Honourable Attorney General will commence the prosecution,” said Governor Wike.
The multi-billion naira Integrated Medical Industries (IMI) Limited was established by former governor, Peter Odili, a medical doctor turned politician. It began production in 2009 with capacity to produce one billion syringes annually.
The judicial inquiry having investigated the management of funds of the syringe factory, is said to have indicted Nwokoma, Peterside and Parker for allegedly “squandering IMI Ltd funds.”
The government had accused the Amaechi administration of nursing an intricate quest for expansion of the syringe factory, thereby inflicting aggravated financial exposure of the state government to the tune of N36 billion.
“Following a convoluted quest for expansion, the State Government under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, inflicted the State with aggravated financial exposure which cannot be accounted for today; as the company has gone aground, and N36 billion investment now drained,” the government said last year.
In November last year, the Rivers government set up a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate alleged N36 billion fraud at the state owned Integrated Medical Industries Limited for the manufacture of auto-destruct syringes at Rumuosi, in Obio/Akpor local government area of the state.
Emmah Okah, state commissioner for Information and Communications, said then that the decision to set up the panel was reached at a state executive council meeting, which was based on acceptance of the recommendations of an executive committee headed by the Deputy Governor, Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, which was set up to look into the matter.
The government had also sacked the IMI management team led by Amenya Wokoma, replacing it with a new management structure pending the outcome of the commission of inquiry.
“Council also directed the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice to take over the ongoing prosecution of Mr Amenya Wokoma for his role in the stealing of company assets worth billions of naira. A fraud of N36 billion is not a tea party; and the state government will stop at nothing to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Okah had said last year.