By Emmanuel Ovuakporie
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) yesterday formally returned looted monies and properties of former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, to Gov. Timipreye Sylva.
At the brief ceremony at the Chelsea Hotel, one of the products of the looted money, the EFCC boss, Mrs Farida Waziri, told newsmen the genesis of how the monies and properties were recovered.
According to her, the commission gathered and sold the assets in Nigeria and they realised as follows: N3,128,230, 294,83.00, $441,000.00, 7000,00 Euros, #2000.00 pounds.
She said,Â â€œthe money has been remitted to the Central Bank of Nigeria in accordance with the law for onward delivery to the Bayelsa Government as ordered by the court and the state is hereby advised to liaise with the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to obtain payment.â€
She said besides the money, â€œwe are handing over two prime forfeited properties â€“the Chelsea Hotel located in the Central Area ofÂ Abuja valued at over N2.8 billion in 2007 and No. 2 Mascibit Street valued at over N210,000 and we have instructed Diya Fatmilehin and Co, former managers of the hotel to provide the state government all the details.â€
On foreign components of the assets, she said, â€œthe assets are still in the process of being gathered with the assistance ofÂ the British government, once that process is completed, those assets would be returned as well to the Bayelsa State Government.â€
â€œLet me reiterate that these assets were traced, frozen, managed and finally forfeited at great cost and expense to the Federal Government though we are not asking for a refund of the cost, the state government has a responsibility and obligation to utilize the funds transparently and judiciously.â€
â€œIt is international best practice to have a utilisation programme for the funds now returned, the Bayelsa government is therefore called upon to develop a plan with verifiable projects for use of the funds in collaboration with civil groups.â€
On the $100million dollar ranchÂ in South Africa owned by the former governor, she said â€œit was sold by the South African authorities but the proceeds were remitted to the Metropolitan police in London.â€
Responding,the state governor Timi Sylva thanked Mrs Waziri for a job well done and pointed out that the recovered loot will be used to build a plaza that would be named â€˜Transparency plazaâ€™ to serve as a deterrent to others in the near future though it takes the grace of God not to be corrupt.
He said it was his fervent prayers as the â€œEFCC Chairman mentioned earlier events like this should come to an end though in Bayelsa we have a due process department with a e-governance put in place to check corruption as this ceremony is a very sad one.â€
Later, the governor told journalists that N3billion may not be able to build a plaza but the government would find a way out.
He also addressed the sacked workers of the posh Chelsea Hotel that some of them May be reabsorbed when it starts operations.