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Petitions Against Ex-Govs, Families Flood EFCC

yugudaA huge number of damning petitions are currently being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with allegations of stealing, abuse of office, money laundering and other vices, for which EFCC said they have been indicted.

According to senior operatives of the commission, some of the immediate-past governors and many of their family members will soon be charged to court on conclusion of investigations.

“Since we are not the final arbiter on corruption matters, they will all have their days in courts of competent jurisdiction,” a highly placed source said.

Checks further revealed that several state governors who served out their tenure on May 29 “have cases to answer.”

Isa Yuguda is said to be an exception because there is currently no petitions written against him.

“We don’t know if there is any understanding between Yuguda and his successor but all the others have cases against them,” a top operative of the anti-corruption agency said.

“It has been a floodgate of damning allegations for most of the immediate past governors. We are investigating every matter in details and sieving out frivolous ones. The truth is that many of them stand indicted and will have to be prosecuted for money laundering, stealing and other corruption charges.

“It is unbelievable that very few can escape if the judiciary doesn’t look at technicalities. You know we don’t adjudicate,” the source added.

EFCC last week invited Mrs. Toyin Saraki, Senate President Bukola Saraki’s wife and Zainab Dakingari, wife of the immediate-past Kebbi State governor and daughter of the late president Umaru Yar’Adua for questioning for alleged money laundering.

Saraki’s wife was invited to explain issues relating to the management of the accounts of some companies where she has some stake.

“There is a suspicion of money laundering. We want her to come and explain how these accounts are being run,” the source confided.

Hajiya Dakingari responded to some issues on state funds allegedly traced to some companies owned by her.

“We cannot say whether these companies executed some contracts for the state or not,” the source said.

While the former governors of Imo, Adamawa and Jigawa states have been arraigned in court on multiple charges of corruption and money laundering, a former governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sherif, was quizzed by the commission and released on administrative bail.

Penultimate Thursday, EFCC reportedly questioned Chief Mrs. Ifeoma Nwobodo, the Chief of Staff of the immediate-past Enugu State governor Sullivan Chime, over embezzlement.

According to EFCC officials who didn’t want their names published, Nwobodo’s probe is preparatory move to go against Chime.

The woman was grilled for hours following series of petitions centered on conspiracy and diversion of Enugu State funds by the former governor and his minders.

A top official of the EFCC said, “Nwobodo’s invitation is believed to be a precursor to the interrogation of her former principal as the agency is said to be flooded with petitions indicting Chime of humongous graft during his eight-year rule of Enugu State as governor from 2007 to 2015.”

In the coming weeks, crack detectives will put together findings and interrogate more former state governors, it was said. These former governors include those of Plateau, Ebonyi, Kano, Kebbi, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states.

Many of those interrogated so far, we learnt, have prima facie cases that have been established against them. “They have to defend themselves”, he said.

Politicians resort to blackmail

For daring to take these powerful political forces on, the Chairman of the commission Ibrahim Lamorde, has come under intense pressure to either soft-pedal on the charges or be removed from office.

The threats and use of blackmail were weapons used by political associates and relations of the indicted officers “to see if they could sway their protégés and godfathers from prosecution.”

“Powerful politicians have been mobilising hirelings to undermine the commission by sponsoring publications to discredit the efforts to bring the former public officers who dipped their hands in the public till to book,” a source close to the top echelon of EFCC confided.

The source alluded to the reported linkage of Lamorde among the many top government functionaries who were allocated choice properties in Abuja and Lagos, as a parting gift by the former administration of ex-president Goodluck Jonathan.

EFCC officials who spoke extensively in anonymity stated how corruption has been fighting back in EFCC.

According to one of the top officials, what is going on now has similar traits with what Nuhu Ribadu, the former chairman of the commission, went through for his vigour and courage on the fight against corruption in the country.

“When you fight corruption, corruption fights back. Indeed, not many Nigerians have forgotten how those whose toes the former anti-graft czar stepped on, when they had the opportunity to take their pound of flesh, hunted and hounded him into a cold and lonely life in self-exile. He is yet to fully recover from the wilderness experience,” he said.

The events of the last few weeks, since the EFCC under Ibrahim Lamorde regained its gusto by turning the heat on the tribe of kleptomaniacs in our midst, in many ways indicates how vicious the corrupt elements can be when their existence is threatened.

According to insiders, the clamour for Lamorde’s removal became strident following the invitation of a former head of Civil Service Steve Oronsaye and former governors of Adamawa, Jigawa and Imo states, as well as spouses of the former governors of Kwara and Kebbi states.

“Suddenly all the newsrooms in Nigeria were flooded with hate reports by hack writers and pseudo civil rights activists on his payroll, demonizing Lamorde for beaming the searchlight on them,” he said.

“All manner of motives were imputed to the invitation, including the specious claim that the EFCC is persecuting him with phantom corruption allegations because he recommended the merger of the agency with its poorer cousin, the ICPC,” the source said of Oronsanye.

He added that powerful forces also blackmailed Lamorde, alleging that he did not like the face of Oronsaye because he was in the forefront of the agitation for the independence of the Nigerian Financial intelligence Unit, adding that the EFCC boss was also accused of wanting to jeopardize the former head of service’s chances of emerging, either as Secretary to the Government of the Federation or Chief of staff to Buhari.

It was further gathered that politicians also hired a section of the media to publish stories of non-existent civil society groups barricading the entrance to the offices of the EFCC.

“That was patently false. It never occurred but was planted to create a lie of public discontent with the EFCC leadership,” he said.

The EFCC source noted that Lamorde could do no wrong until he took on three powerful ex-governors and their sons – Sule Lamido of Jigawa State and his two sons, Aminu and Mustapha; Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State and his Son Abdul-aziz and Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State.

Lamido, whose son, Aminu had earlier been convicted for money laundering after he was caught with $40,000 cash at the Mallam Aminu International Airport, left prison where he was initially remanded by Justice Anyadike, to sing about him being targeted because of his 2019 presidential ambition.

“When his sons were first arrested by the EFCC in 2013 at the onset of the investigation, the word out there was that the agency had targeted him because of his 2015 presidential ambition! But did he commit the crimes alleged by the EFCC?” the source queried.

Recently, the invitation and interrogation of Toyin Saraki, the wife of the Senate President Bukola Saraki, spawned all manner of conspiracy theories that verge on the well-worn theme of persecution. Once the news broke that Mrs.Saraki had been invited by the EFCC, loyalists of the Sarakis went to town with insinuations that the invitation was instigated by forces incensed by the outcome of the recent power play in the red chamber of the National Assembly.

Accusing fingers were pointed at not only President Muhammadu Buhari but the Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu, as the brains behind what they called, the plot to humiliate Bukola Saraki.

On the day Toyin Saraki honoured the invitation to the EFCC, no less than 14 senators led by Dino Melaye, the new spokesman of the upper chamber escorted her to the EFCC.

Last year, when the invitation of the former governor of Kwara State by the EFCC was hinted at, Saraki, in a show of bravado, denied any such invitation and threatened to sue the newspaper. It took the publication of the original invitation letter from the agency, obtained by our reporters, to silence Saraki.

The checks revealed that, the recent invitation and interrogation of Toyin Saraki, is a fallout of the statement made to the EFCC by her husband and two of his former aides who are currently being prosecuted before a Kwara State High Court, Ilorin.

The aides are Ope Saraki, a cousin to the Senate President who served in his cabinet as special assistant on MDG and one Morunfoye.

Why did the EFCC wait this long before inviting Toyin? Knowledgeable sources say investigations are not time-bound.

“Instead of quarrelling with the timing of the invitation, the EFCC should be commended for its diligence and thoroughness by insisting on inviting suspects only when it is absolutely necessary.”

-Leadership

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