BY LEKE ADESERI, ROTIMI AJAYI, OSCARLINE ONWUEMENYI, ABDULWAHAB ABDULAH, OLA AJAYI, BASHIR ADEFAKA & BOSUN OLATUNJI
ABUJA—The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday, launched sting operations in three different states which led to the arrest of three immediate past governors of Ogun; Otunba Gbenga Daniel; Oyo, Adebayo Alao-Akala and Nasarawa, Alli Akwe Doma.
Sources at the Commission noted that while Daniel was picked over an alleged N58 billion fraud, Alao-Akala is to face charges over N25 billion allegedly missing from the state treasury, while Doma is being investigated for an alleged N18 billion fraud.
The EFCC Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Babafemi, who confirmed the arrests to our correspondent in Abuja, informed that the suspects would be interrogated at the commission’s headquarters located in Wuse 11 area of Abuja.
He explained that Alao-Akala had arrived at the Abuja office while former governor Gbenga Daniel was being awaited.
According to Babafemi: “The suspects were arrested this morning at various locations by our operatives. While Doma was brought immediately to our head office here in Abuja, the other two were taken to our Lagos office for questioning.
“However, we have decided to bring all of them under one roof for effective interrogation. Alao-Akala has arrived since 4:15 pm while former governor Daniel is on his way as we speak”.
The Commission’s spokesman further noted that the former governors would be prosecuted at the end of their interrogation.
Babafemi said Akala was picked up in his residence in Ibadan, Oyo state, while Daniel, who got hint of the plan to arrest him by the EFCC rushed to submit himself at the Lagos office of the agency where he was whisked to Abuja office of the commission.
Daniel was said to have arrived the Efunyela Hall in the premises of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Ikene, venue of the first Pan-Yoruba Conference at 10.40 am and left five minutes later after intimating some Yoruba leaders at the conference of the presence of EFCC operatives at his residence to arrest him.
The EFCC spokesman further said: “I can confirm to you that the two of them are presently in our custody. The ex-governor of Oyo state, Akala was arrested in his home while Daniel having received information that we are coming for him ran away from home and rushed to submit himself in our Lagos office, where he was arrested.
“They will have to face thorough and extensive interrogations from our interrogators today (Thursday) and tomorrow, (Friday). About the issue of charging them to court, I would not want to be pre-emptive, but I can assure you that their interrogation cannot last less than two days. It is after the conclusion of the investigation that we will know what to do. Definitely, after interrogation, the team will know the next line of action,” he said.
However, inside source within the organization told Vanguard that “the duo of Daniel and Akala will spend their weekend in custody. It is likely they will be taken to court next week.”
It was also gathered that their team of lawyers are already being contacted to see how their interrogation goes.
Waziri orders arrest of more former govs
A reliable source hinted that more former governors are likely to face arrest very soon as the EFCC boss, Farida Waziri was said to have given the final order for their arrest yesterday.
Waziri is also said to have gone into hiding to avoid coming under the kind of pressure she faced after the arrest of former Speaker of House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole.
Mrs. Waziri has made it clear that she would investigate several of the former state executive officers, and bring to book as many as are found culpable for looting or mismanaging state resources.
Prior to the expiration of their tenure on May 29 this year, many of the ex-governors were reported to have gone into hiding, with some escaping abroad to avoid prosecution for pillaging their state resources.
According to our EFCC sources, “the Commission is presently on a manhunt for some of these former governors, who have left the shores of Nigeria. A good many of them have cases to answer with the EFCC for the way they handled state finances. Soon, more arrests would be made and they would be made to answer for their actions and inactions.”
Daniel: I will be vindicated
Reacting to his arrest, Otunba Gbenga Daniel said he would be vindicated after his interrogation. In a statement issued on his behalf by his spokesman, Mr Adegbenro Adebanjo, he said: “Today, agents of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, visited the Sagamu home of Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former governor of Ogun State. When they got there Otunba Daniel was at the Pan-Yoruba Summit in Ikenne. On learning of their presence in Sagamu, Otunba Daniel left Ikenne to join them after which he was taken away by the agents ostensibly to continue investigation into the petitions it had received against the former governor.
“It is important to state that prior to their visit, Otunba Daniel had not been invited to answer any question. Also nothing incriminating has been found or brought to his notice by officials of the EFCC prior to their visit to his house on Thursday. Indeed, when speculation became rife that he may be invited for questioning a scheduled trip abroad by the former governor was put on hold in order for him to be available to answer the summons of the EFCC. As a law abiding citizen, Otunba Daniel expects the agency to follow the due process in the current situation.
“Otunba Daniel remains confident that he would be vindicated as the petitions written against him and which may have formed the basis of his invitation by the EFCC are politically motivated. We believe that at the end of the day the truth will prevail.
Jubilation in Abeokuta, Ijebu-ode over Daniel’s arrest
Meanwhile it was celebration galore yesterday, in both Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital and Sagamu and its environs, when the news of the arrest of former governor of Ogun state Olugbenga Daniel by operatives of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) filtered into town.
The embattled former governor was seen few hours before his arrest at the Pan-Yoruba Conference held in Ikenne, where he briefly spoke with newsmen on the need for the Yoruba race to put their differences apart in the interest of unity.
People discussed the matter in hushed tones while the Master of Ceremony, Femi Okunrounmu publicly expressed surprise as he announced the presence of Daniel and found out that he was no more in their midst.