President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Mohammed Bello Koko, a crony of transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi, as Finance Director at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
Koko is a former assistant general manager at Zenith Bank in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. In 2009, he was arraigned alongside three other top officials of Zenith Bank before a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt over allegations of fraud to the tune of 3.6bn naira ($12.7m). The money was allegedly paid to a handful of Rivers State government officials.
His plush property in Port Harcourt, with a number of luxury cars inside, was sealed off by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) during the investigation, while he was alleged to have escaped arrest by being kept in the Rivers State liaison office in Abuja on the orders of then-governor Amaechi. A source close to the investigation claimed that huge amounts in bribes were paid for the case to be quashed.
Koko helped Amaechi become governor in 2007 by providing a secret and unauthorised loan from Zenith Bank for the (s)election campaign. He also organised fundraisers for Amaechi protégé Dakuku Peterside’s failed bid to become governor of Rivers State last year.
Amaechi has now rewarded Peterside with the position of Director-General at the cash cow Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA. One source claimed this was to help recoup money spent running for governor. While the transport minister’s other crony takes over the finances of the NPA.
A source close to Amaechi summed up the feeling of elation in their camp after Buhari won the (s)election last year by saying: “We have chopped at state level. We are now going to chop at federal level.”
With the “fantastically corrupt” Amaechi in control of the transport ministry and his “boys” at NIMASA and the NPA, no doubt a lot of “chopping” is already in full swing.