29th January, 2016
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
A group known as Media Advocacy for Anti-corruption has claimed it has stumbled on a massive plot by the Rivers State government to smear the acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mrs. Ibim Semenitari.
According to the group, an entire consortium of the state government are determined to rubbish the person of the acting head of the NDDC.
The group led by James Okoronkwo claimed that the state Ministry of Information and Communications has compiled fictitious memos and doctored receipts to push out to mainly online and print media concerning Semenitari’s time as commissioner under the administration of Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, the current Minister of Transport.
“The plan, being coordinated by the state ministry of Information and Communications is to cast her as corrupt and unfit in order to sway public opinions against the NDDC’s boss and hopefully, compel President Muhammadu Buhari from confirming her as substantive MD and as well send the anti-corruption agencies against her,” the group said.
“We therefore called on the general public to be wary of this sinister plan by the Rivers government against the NDDC boss, advising them to take note of those to hold responsible for any incidence that may befall Semenitari.”
According to the pressure group, a source at the Ministry of Information, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that “the Rivers government is desperate to taint her, given her impeccable character and time as commissioner. They are of the opinion that if they can sufficiently rubbish her, President Buhari will be forced not to appoint her as the substantive MD of the NDDC.
They have also targeted her to be the first point of attack after Governor Wike’s victory at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, the group claimed.
“My brother, don’t be surprised if you see statements from the PDP Rivers state chapter claiming that the Acting MD of the NDDC sponsored the APC matter at the tribunal through award of fictitious contracts as well as alleging that she appointed 23 aides from Rivers state alone.
“The end product is to pitch the other NDDC states against her and ensure that her tenure is characterised by crisis and mistrust.”
The group further alleged that besides these malicious allegations, the Rivers PDP and commissioner of information have engaged the services of hack writers and columnists to dish out jaundiced articles and opinions against the NDDC especially her efforts to reposition the interventionist commission.
“These people are not resting about madam (Semenitari). They have hired people to demonstrate every week at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt claiming to be community leaders whose communities have been marginalised since she assumed office.“The wicked one is their plans to release photoshop pictures of her allegedly in compromising situations with men, even women,” the source disclosed.
The group recalled that in early January, Tam-George had alleged that Semenitari obtained a loan of N1billion as commissioner, a charge that was rebuffed given that no ministry by law under the former administration was allowed to take loans.“The state commissioner when presented with the fact could not substantiate his fact further,” they said.
They noted that, to confirm their findings, the first press statement made available to journalists at Secretariat of Nigerian Union of Journalist, NUJ, on January 28, Tam-George, alleged that “Rivers State is still reeling from the catastrophic legacy of Rotimi Amaechi year. Despite receiving over 3 trillion naira in revenue in 8 years, Amaechi left the most abandoned projects in the history of Rivers State since 1967.
“Thousands of workers were without their salaries for four months and thousands of teachers were not paid foto 12 months”
During question and answer, Tam-George restated that N82 million naira allegedly spent by the Ministry of Information under the headship of Mrs Ibim Semenitari to host the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, was fraudulent and must be accounted for.
He vowed that those indicted would be investigated as petitions had reached anti-graft agencies.
It would be recalled that Dr Tam George denied any deliberate attempt by the Rivers State Government to tar the international image of Professor Soyinka but that the allegations were based on facts.
The group said: “Mrs Semenitari had denied the allegations of fraud and gave detailed breakdown of how N82 million was spent to host Professor Soyinka.”