By SONI DANIEL, REGIONAL EDITOR, NORTH
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday, arrested the former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva following his refusal to honour invitations to answer charges over allegations of fraud running into billions of Naira.
The offence was said to have been committed while he served as the governor of the state.
He was picked up at his 3, Niger Street, Maitama, Abuja home.
Vanguard learnt that the EFCC operatives stormed the mansion around 10.00 am and were told by Sylva’s security men that the man was not in town and that they should come back upon his return.
However, the operatives smelling a rat, decided to conduct a search on the house since they were already armed with a search warrant signed by the court.
Apart from discovering the embattled governor in one of the hideouts in the mansion, the search also led to the recovery of what the operatives described as ‘very vital documents’ that could assist in his prosecution.
“Ironically, the ex-governor, who was said to be out of town, was later found hiding in a dingy corner in the upper chamber of his expansive mansion.
“He was immediately whisked away and is currently being interrogated at the Abuja headquarters of the anti-graft agency,” a source said.
The spokesman for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed the arrest of the former governor, who fell out with President Goodluck Jonathan over political differences in 2011.
He is being grilled in connection with fresh evidence linking him with a bouquet of fraudulent transactions that border on money laundering. Part of the new evidence includes a number of eye-popping real estate acquisitions in Abuja.
The arrest of the former governor followed his refusal to honour invitations by the commission. Rather than appear before the EFCC, he got his lawyers to inform the commission that he was unable to appear because he was sick, and hospitalised in Lagos. The lawyer had promised to appear with Sylva on Tuesday but failed to do so.
Before the arrest, the commission had listed many property in and outside Abuja worth over N48 billion, which it claimed to have been traced to the former governor.
EFCC wanted him to stand trial and explain how he came about the stupendous wealth but Sylva has denied ownership of most of the property, claiming that he was being persecuted by the agency for political reasons.