The detained Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Samuel Johnson Okpoko, has told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that he collected N700million poll bribery cash from Fidelity Bank on the instruction of Governor Nyesom Wike.
But while Okpoko will soon be charged to court, the anti-graft agency might put the invitation of the governor on hold because of constitutional immunity.
The immunity, however, does not prevent the EFCC from investigating the allegation against the governor and keeping vital information for his trial after his tenure.
According to a source in EFCC, Okpoko admitted that he collected the cash in two tranches at Trans Amadi branch of Fidelity Bank Plc in Port Harcourt.
The source said: “Operatives of the EFCC, have grilled the Rivers State Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Mr. Samuel Johnson Okpoko , for collecting N700million from the controversial $115milloon lodged with Fidelity Bank Plc, by the immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke.
“Okpoko, who was the Rivers state’s PDP campaign coordinator in the 2015 Presidential Election collected the sum of N700 million in two tranches of N600 million and N100 million respectively at the Trans Amadi branch of Fidelity Bank Plc, Port- Harcourt.
Investigations by the EFCC revealed that Okpoko cashed N600 million on March 27 and N100 million on March 31,2015.
“Explaining how he became involved, Okpoko said he was instructed by the then PDP governorship candidate, Nyesom Wike to go to the branch of Fidelity Bank to cash some money there.
The source quoted Okpoko as saying: “I was with my governor in his house sometime 27th day of March 2015, when he got a call and Chief Barrister Nyesom Wike after the phone call told me that the call was from Fidelity Bank and they have some money for him”.
But Special Assistant to Governor Wike on electronic media, Mr Simeon Nwakaudu, said: “We are not aware of what you talked about in your text message”
He said Okpoko was already in the custody of the EFCC and would be charged to court soon.
Responding to a question, the source said: “Since the governor enjoys immunity by virtue of Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution, we cannot invite Nyesom Wike now for interrogation on the allegation by Okpoko.
“This however does not prevent the EFCC from probing issues connected with the payment of the N700million and asking for refund from the beneficiaries.”
Section 308 of the constitution reads in part: “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this constitution but subject to sub-section 2 of this section- (a) no civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted or continued against a person to whom this section applies during his period of office; (b) a person to whom this section applies shall not be arrested or imprisoned during that period either on pursuance of the process of any court or otherwise; and (c ) no process of any court requiring or compelling the appearance of a person to whom this section applies, shall be applied for or issued.”