A member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State, Perekeme Kpodoh, has filed a defence against the N10 billion libel suit brought against him by the immediate past governor of the state, Seriake Dickson, insisting that his statement accusing the last administration of mismanaging over N1 Trillion accrued to the state between 2012 and 2019 is true and factual.
Former Governor Seriake Dickson, now Senator representing the Bayelsa West Senatorial District of the state, had in a suit numbered YHC/42/2020 against Perekeme Kpodoh (First respondent) and the Silverbird Communications Limited (Second respondent), signed by the first respondent denied the allegations.
But Mr. Kpodoh, who recently defected to the PDP from All Progressives Congress, in a statement of defence filed at the court and made available to newsmen in Yenagoa, denied each of the 27 paragraph statement of claims by the claimant, Senator Dickson, insisting that the claimant did not maintain a clean bill of the offices he occupied, particularly as former Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice and during his eight-year reign as governor of the state.
Kpodoh, however, justified his defence with the fact that during the claimant's eight years in office as governor of the state, “Bayelsa Government received a total of N1.04 trillion as statutory allocation from the Federal Account from February 2012 to January 2020, amounting to 96 months."
He said the figure was drawn from a detailed and comprehensive document 'Distribution of Revenue Allocation to State Governments by Federation Account Allocation Committee' duly produced and obtained from the official website of the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation - www.aggf.gov.ngupon application.
He said, “That there are no infrastructural projects in Bayelsa state that is anyway commensurate to the monumental sum of N1.04 trillion received as statutory allocation from the Federation Account alone during the eight-year reign of the claimant as helmsman of the state. The claimant's eight-year reign rather impoverished Bayelsans through wanton termination of appointments of civil servants and failure to pay gratuities and other entitlement of those who retired from the civil service of the state. For most of the few infrastructural projects executed, especially the Bayelsa Airport was awarded over-bloated and inflated amounts and yet the execution is substandard.”
“Upon the claimant’s assumption of office as governor in the year 2012, the Bayelsa State Government enacted the Bayelsa State Government Compulsory Savings Law 2012 which inter alia, provides that the state government shall in every month cause to be paid into designated account not less than five percent of the total income accruing to the state from all sources. The claimant as governor informed the public that pursuant to the said law, the Bayelsa State Strategic Reserved and Saving Account with Account number 0281206040 had been opened with First City Monument Bank and the State Strategic Development Project Account with account number 1016076344 had also been opened with United Bank of Africa.
“The claimant further informed the public at that time that while the FCMB account had a balance of N2 billion, the UBA account had a balance of N5 billion. Unfortunately, the claimant in flagrant breach of the Bayelsa State Government compulsory savings law, 2012, failed, refused, and neglected to pay the specified sums into the designated bank accounts during his time as governor even though the state had a steady income from various sources all through his reign.
“The Bayelsa State Government through the claimant in his monthly transparency briefing informed the public that the Bayelsa State Strategic Reserve and Savings Account is an interest yielding account dedicated to providing savings for rainy days yet there is no evidence that monies were truly paid into that account and it yielded any interest."
Kpodoh further in his claim of defence filed before the court alleged that aside from the sum of N1.04 trillion accrued to the state from the statutory allocation for the eight years and the undeclared Internally Generated Revenue, the Dickson administration also took both foreign and domestic loans running into $47 million and N158 billion respectively.
“The above figure was drawn from a letter from the debt management office (DMO)-DMO/DRS/01/127/111/640 dated January 6, 2021. In response to an application by the 1st defendant for certified true copies of documents/records showing details of domestic and foreign debts owed by the Bayelsa State Government from February 2012 to January 2020. The first defendant shall during the hearing of this suit find and rely on his letter to DMO dated November 19, 2020, and response to same dated January 6, 2021.”
Kpodoh stated that during the time that Senator Seriake Dickson was the state Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, “he sent a memorandum with reference number hag/18/vol/898 dated 25/01/2006 with the subject 'Request for Approval for the purchase of ten (10) portacabins and a power generating set' to the then Governor of Bayelsa State, demanding the sum of N49 million”.
He continued, “And an Intercontinental Bank cheque with number 0137752 dated 28/03/2006 bearing the sum of N47, 262, 500 was subsequently issued by the Bayelsa State Government to Trenur Nigeria Limited.
“The aforementioned sum was paid to the said company and the money was personally received by the claimant on behalf of the company. Apart from the fact that the claimant diverted the monies meant for those items, he was not supposed to personally receive the cheque. The 1st defendant shall during the hearing of this suit file a Subpoena Duces Tecum and Ad testification to call on an appropriate officer of the Bayelsa State Ministry of Justice to tender all documents relating to the contract and rely on the same."