Former Governor of Bayelsa State and Senator for Bayelsa West Senatorial District, Senator Seriake Dickson, yesterday faced interrogators at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
This followed an invitation by the agency over allegations bordering on abuse of office and misappropriation of public funds during his eight-year tenure as Bayelsa State chief executive between 2012 and 2020.
However, Dickson dismissed the allegations against him as senseless.
A team of operatives investigating the allegations grilled the former governor, who arrived the headquarters of EFCC in Jabi, Abuja, about 11am. Though details of the allegations against the governor were sketchy as at press time, a source familiar with the case disclosed that they related to “issues of assets declaration and misapplication of intervention funds and other assets belonging to the Bayelsa State government”.
EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed Dickson’s invitation.
Meanwhile, Dickson, who confirmed the development, said he was invited by the agency based on a petition written against him over alleged diversion of N17.5 billion flood funds in 2012. He described the petition as frivolous, saying he had acquired family assets in various parts of the country and the United Kingdom between 1996 and 2012 before becoming governor.
In a statement yesterday, the ranking senator stated that the EFCC inquiry related to investments of his family trust, “which I incorporated while being a member of the House of Representatives to hold my family assets and investments which were made between 1996 and 2012 before I became governor.”
He also said, “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.”
Dickson said the aforementioned investments were declared in his assets declaration form at the House of Representatives in 2011; governorship nomination form in 2012, 2016, and 2020 after he left office, as well as the Senate Assets Declaration form this year.
The senator added that he went beyond the declarations and wrote several letters to the appropriate agencies, copies of which had since been made available to the EFCC.
He stated, “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 judgment 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.”
The lawmaker said he was presented with another allegation of diversion of flood funds to the tune ofN17.5 billion when he got to the EFCC office on Tuesday.
According to him, “The investigating team came up with a new allegation of diversion of flood funds in 2012 totalling 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 has since asked me to return home on self-recognition.”