Former Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson has been released by the Economic and Finacial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The former Governor, who is the current senator representing Bayelsa West in the National Assembly was questioned by the EFCC in Abuja for several hours on Tuesday, Naija News earlier reported.
The anti-graft agency is investigating allegations bordering on abuse of office and misappropriation of public funds during his eight-year rule of Bayelsa State between 2012 and 2020.
Speaking after he emerged from the interrogation with the EFCC, Dickson has explained why he was questioned by the agency.
According to him, he received an invitation from the EFCC over some issues which needed to be clarified concerning the asset declaration of an alleged NGO.
He said though he couldn’t honour the EFCC invitation immediately, he rescheduled the appointment with them which was what he honoured on Tuesday.
Dickson added that the assets for which he was facing questioning were those he incorporated and managed for his family even before he became a governor.
He however said some people were attempting to blackmail him with the investment details, adding that the allegations against him are frivolous.
The statement noted that the EFCC released him on self recognition after he answered their questions.
He said: “About two weeks ago I received an invitation from the EFCC to clarify some issues relating to assets declarations as alleged by an NGO. On account of our busy schedule at the time, I wrote to inform them and we agreed to reschedule the interview for today.”
“As a law abiding citizen and with a life long commitment to supporting Law enforcement and security agencies, I honored the invitation today as rescheduled. I understand that the subject matter of the inquiry relates to investments of my family trust, which I incorporated while being a member of the House of Reps to hold my family assets and investments which were made between 1996 and 2012 before I became Governor.”
“I understand that there is a petition from an NGO alleging that these investments (largely buildings, plots, farms, etc in my village, Orua, Yenagoa, and two buy-to-let houses in the UK) were not declared. I have a duty to clarify these issues with the investigating authorities who by law have the responsibility to inquire into these matters.”
“However, for the avoidance of doubts, let me state that my family investments, Seriake Dickson Trust Incorporated were made between 1996 and 2012 before I became Governor.”
“These investments were funded by loans and advances and repaid from salaries, allowances, savings and others. One of them is still on mortgage and I have made these documents available to the EFCC.”
“These investments were declared in my assets declaration form at the House of Reps in 2011; my Governorship form in 2012, 2016, 2020 after I left office and the Senate Assets declaration form this year.
I went beyond these declarations and wrote several letters to the appropriate agencies, copies of which have been made available to the EFCC. My trust and I subscribed to the federal government Voluntary Assets Income AND Declaration Scheme (VAIDES) and also paid the necessary taxes.”
“As a result of blackmail from some quarters, the Trust and I went to the Federal High Court where there is a subsisting judgement declaring that no Nigerian law is breached by a public officer who takes loans and other verifiable avenues to make investments for his family provided these are declared.”
“It should be on record that I have since resigned from the Trust Administration since 2011 before I became Governor. My solicitors and those of the trust have written to the EFCC to clarify these issues with the accompanying documents.”
“However on getting to the commission, the investigating team came up with a new allegation of diversion of flood funds in 2012 totaling N17.5 billion. The petition further alleged that the money was used for my re-election in 2019. The fact is that there was no such donation about the 2012 flood in Bayelsa.”
“Curiously, there was no mention of donor or where the money came from. There was also no re-election for governorship in Bayelsa in 2019 which are clear proofs that the petition was totally frivolous.”
“The commission after looking into these allegations have since asked me to return home on self recognition.
I have authorized this statement to be released for the avoidance of any misinformation.”