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General News of Wednesday, 15 March 2023


Wike twisted my remark on Igbos’ abandoned property in Rivers - Amaechi

Chibuike Amaechi Chibuike Amaechi

Former Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, has denied an allegation that he promised to return abandoned property to Igbos in Rivers State if the All Progressives Congress (APC) wins Saturday’s governorship election in the state.

Tonye Cole is the APC governorship candidate in Rivers.

Mr Ameachi said his remark at a meeting with leaders of the Igbo community in the state was “deliberately twisted by Governor Nyesom Wike” whom he said is known for trading “divisive fake news.”

Sun newspaper on Monday reported how the Rivers State Government berated Mr Ameachi, accusing him of “attempting to instigate hostility between Igbos and the people of the state over a legally foreclosed issue of abandoned property of non-indigenes.”

According to the newspaper, Mr Amaechi had, in a meeting with Igbos in the state last week, promised that the state would return their property declared abandoned by the military government immediately after the Nigerian Civil War if Mr Cole is elected governor.

Mr Amaechi, a former governor of the state, is the leader of APC in the Rivers state.

He is said to have made the “promise” while soliciting votes for Mr Cole ahead of Saturday’s polls.

But the media office of the former minister in a statement on Tuesday described the story as “fake”. He said it was “meant to malign the person and character,” of the former minister.

“We have observed that unscrupulous and ill-advised elements have twisted and misrepresented the speech made by Mr Amaechi during his stakeholders meeting with Igbos in Rivers State last week.

“We are astonished that even the respected Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers fell for the false story and fake news being propagated by the Rivers State Governor without making any effort to clarify what Mr Amaechi said; yet they went ahead to address the media, castigating and condemning the immediate past Rivers State Governor on the basis of a fake, ill-conceived story obviously concocted by the current failed Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike,” the statement said.

Mr Amaechi’s media office said the former minister only rehashed his apology to the Igbos when he was the governor that he was sorry on behalf of the state for abandoned properties during the Nigerian civil war.

“All of us who are here know that when I became Governor, the first thing I said to the Igbos was ‘I am sorry, I am sorry on abandoned property. I said, if I were governor when they were doing abandoned property, I would not accept. So in my speech to the Igbos (as governor), I said I am sorry on behalf of Rivers State.”

The former minister said he only mentioned: “compensation when he spoke about people who are being intimidated, harassed and threatened with violence due to their choice of voting and support for the APC in the upcoming governorship and State Assembly election”.

Mr Amaechi said: “We need you to come out, we need you to stand, and we need you not to be harassed. If they burn any of your houses or they burn any of your shops, write your name and give to …. We will replace everything they burned, everything you lost. Rivers State government will not start if we win, without paying you back,” it said.

Chris Finebone, commissioner for information in the state, when contacted, referred PREMIUM TIMES to a publication in Punch newspaper where the said statement made by Mr Amaechi was also published.

According to the Sun newspaper, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, Zacchaeus Adangor, had told reporters at the end of the State Executive Council (SEC) that the issue of abandoned property in the state, is “essentially and palpably one of law.”

“You will recall that the Abandoned Property Edit No.8 of 1969 established the Abandoned Property Custody and Management Authority and charged that authority and the responsibility of managing the property of non-indigene left unattended during the civil war.

“The constitutionality of that law has been tested in several decisions of our court, including that of the Supreme Court and that law is still a subsisting law, and it has never been invalidated by any judgment of the court,” Mr Adangor, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, was quoted as saying.

The newspaper stated that the SEC meeting was presided over by Mr Wike but did not state when it was held.