December 24, 2013

EFCC quizzes principal officers of Kano Assembly



*Arrest an attempt to frustrate lawmakers over APC —Kwankwaso

By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North   & AbdulSalam Muhammad

KANO—Barely three weeks after the Kano State governor, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, defected to the All Progressives Congress, APC, operatives of the Economic and Financial Commission, EFCC, yesterday moved against him.

In a move reminiscent of the Obasanjo days, agents of the anti-graft agency took away the speaker of the House of  Assembly, Gambo Salau, and all the principal officers as well as the Clerk, for grilling.

The speaker and all other principal officers were first stripped of their security details and moved into a vehicle before being taken away to the EFCC office in Kano and later transferred to Abuja for what the operatives called “questioning.”

Reacting to the development, Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso described the action not only as politically motivated but also a brazen attempt to frustrate the Kano lawmakers from defecting to All Progressives Congress, APC.

The governor said: “It is crystal clear that the above mentioned public officials were arrested by the EFCC based on the orders from the above, because of the legislators’ defection to APC, in support of Governor Kwankwaso.

“This action is obviously to intimidate and cow them into submission for choosing to move to the progressive fold.

This action is not only despicable and absurd but also capable of igniting crisis in the polity, thereby breaching the relative peace that is being enjoyed in Kano state. It is regrettable that the EFCC is allowing itself to be a tool of witch-hunt in the hands of the powers that be.”
But the commissioner said that those taken to Abuja were merely responding to an invitation to be able to respond to allegations of fraud raised by a petitioner against them.

Spokesman for EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, told Vanguard that the officials were not taken by force but that they willingly came to honour an invitation over a petition bordering on the supplementary budget recently passed by them.

Those taken into EFCC custody included the Speaker, Gambo Salau, his Deputy, Majority leader, Hamisu Ibrahim,  Deputy Majority leader, Minority leader, Deputy minority leader, the Chief Whip, Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Chairman, House Committee on Finance and the Clerk of the Assembly.

The EFCC operatives, who were backed by two Armoured Personnel Carriers and 20 regular policemen had earlier in the morning took over the premises of the Assembly Complex located at Audu Bako Secretariat in anticipation of the arrival of the lawmakers due to sit and  consider a N28 billion supplementary budget sent to them last week by Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.

Shortly after the unsuspecting lawmakers trickled into the complex and commenced the business of the day, the operatives  quickly served the Speaker an invitation letter that was subsequently read to the lawmakers.

However, the controversial N28 billion supplementary budget passed through the first and second reading before it was passed into law by the legislators during tension-soaked session.

When the legislators wound off their business, the affected key officers were whisked away by the heavily armed security personnel to EFCC office located at Hajj Camp general area in Kano.

Confirming the arrests, the EFCC spokesman, said they had a petition from an unnamed petitioner alleging that the N28 billion supplementary budget before the lawmakers was an attempt to siphon public funds and not really meant to serve any public good.