By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North
Apparently responding to criticism that it is not doing enough to tackle corruption, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has closed in on ten former governors who are standing trial for looting the treasury of their states when they held sway. Among the suspects, whose cases are being tackled in courts by the anti-graft agency with a view to bringing them to account for the huge sum of money said to have stolen by them are, Lucky Igbinedion, Chimaroke Nnamani, Orji Uzor Kalu, Saminu Turaki and Joshua Dariye.
Others on the trial list of the commission are: Abubakar Audu, Danjuma Goje, Akwe Doma and Jolly Nyame. The Head of Media and Publicity of the Commission, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, made the disclosure at a media briefing in Abuja on Monday.
The commission said however the case of corrupt enrichment preferred against Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State has been temporarily put on hold following his election as the governor of the state in line with the immunity clause in the Constitution of Nigeria.
Uwujaren disclosed that apart from seizing the assets of the most of the suspects, it has also frozen the accounts of companies linked to the former governors.
He said the former governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriif might be declared wanted if he fails to honour its invitation to answer some questions bordering on a petition against him. The commission said that it has so far recovered the sum of N65 billion from the suspects. In the same vein, EFCC said it also recovered $245 million, £693,000 and €62,000 from the corrupt individuals and organisations between 2012 and 2014.
Recovers N65bn, $245m, £693,000, 62,000 euro
The commission said it had so far recovered N65 billion from the suspects. In the same vein, EFCC said it also recovered $245 million, £693,000 and €62,000 from corrupt individuals and organisations between 2012 and 2014. The commission used the briefing to dismiss insinuations by two of its former staff, Ms. Juliet Ibekaku and Mr. Michael Nzekwe, that it had not been able to effectively prosecute and convict any corrupt politician in the last eight years.
The commission, which dismissed the claim of the two former staff as a deliberate attempt to distort fact, warned them to desist from casting the agency in bad light just to score selfish goals. Ibekaku was quoted as having said during the just-concluded APC Policy Dialogue in Lagos that EFCC had failed the nation in the fight against corruption.
She said at the event: “In the past seven or eight years since EFCC started, we’ve been hearing about governors who have been in the courts for the past eight years, no conviction, nothing! No assets recovered. And we are still back to square one. “So, something has to change. And in my mind, what needs to change is the leadership. The second thing that needs to change is the staffing, who are we hiring to work in this place?”
But the agency fired back at its ex-official, describing her as being driven by a burning, selfish desire to run down the EFCC because she was dismissed from the commission for gross indiscipline.
The commission pointed out that apart from former Bayelsa and Delta governors, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and James Ibori, that it successfully prosecuted and convicted for corruption, the anti-graft agency had made tremendous progress in recovering public funds and assets with billions of Naira from the former governors and their cronies.
Giving a breakdown of the assets recovered and accounts of former governors frozen, the EFCC spokesman, said no fewer than 12 landed property in Nigeria and abroad were recovered from Alamieyeseigha and handed over to Bayelsa State Government. Similarly, the commission disclosed that it had recovered nine choice property from former Plateau governor, Joshua Dariye, and frozen six banks accounts traced to former Jigawa governor, Saminu Turaki.
The anti-graft agency boasted that the former Enugu governor, Chimaroke Nnamani, would soon face the law, as six of the companies charged with him for corrupt practices had already pleaded guilty to the charges, paving the way for his prosecution. It added that a similar fate awaited the former Edo governor, Lucky Igbinedion, who is being retried afresh after a judge had given him a ‘soft landing’ verdict, adding that his two major property had been confiscated in Benin City by the commission.
The commission said it was wrong for anyone to claim that the agency was not doing enough to tackle corruption in Nigeria, describing the assessment as a mere perception.