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EFCC chair resumes, to battle 25 abandoned cases against ex-govs, others

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The new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ola Olukoyede, will inherit no fewer than 25 high-profile corruption cases involving former governors, ministers and senators, Sunday PUNCH can report.....PROCEED.FULL.READING>>>

Some of the cases, especially those against some ex-governors, have lasted several years. While some are still under investigation, some have spent years in court with no conclusive end to the trials.

Olukoyede was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday barely four months after the former chairman of the commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, was suspended.

Based on Sunday PUNCH findings, the amount at stake in the high-profile cases is not less than N772.2bn and another $2.2bn, alleged to have gone missing through money laundering, fund diversion and misappropriation.

Some of the former governors who have been invited by the commission for probe include the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi; his predecessor, Ayo Fayose; former governor of Zamfara State and incumbent Minister of State for Defence, Bello Matawalle; and a former governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani, among others.

Other lingering cases involving the commission include the former National Security Adviser under ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Col Sambo Dasuki (retd.), former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, among others.

On June, Fayemi was invited by the commission over allegations of N4bn misappropriation during his tenure as governor. Fayemi’s media aide, Ahmad Sajoh, had said in a statement the following day that the former governor was invited “regarding a money laundering petition against him”, adding that the petition was filed by a faceless group.

In May, the EFCC said the former Zamfara State governor was being investigated for the alleged diversion of N70bn from the state treasury. While the former governor accused Bawa of demanding $2m bribe, the EFCC in turn said Matawalle was under probe for N70bn fraud. As of the time of filing this report, the status of the bribery allegation and fraud claims could not be ascertained.

Also, Nnamani was charged to court by the EFCC over an alleged N5.3bn fraud but the case was struck out in 2018. The agency however said in February of the same year that it had the intention of filing fresh charges against Nnamani and his former aide, Sunday Anyaogu. As of the time of filing this report, it could not be ascertained if the EFCC filed the fresh charges as it promised, and the status of the case.

Similarly, a former governor of Nasarawa State and immediate past chairman of the All Progressives Congress Senator Abdullahi Adamu, was in 2010 accused by the agency of N15bn fraud when he served as the governor between 1999 and 2007. The commission filed a 149-count charge against Adamu and 18 others.

Even though Adamu argued the case against him had been struck out by the court, a claim the EFCC (the plaintiff) has yet to affirm or deny, the commission in 2018 arraigned Adamu’s son for N92m fraud. The status of the two separate cases had remained unknown.

Similarly, in 2021, the former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, who was the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party in the 2023 election, was interrogated by the EFCC over alleged non-remittance of N10bn pension fund. The outcome of the investigation was however not known why the EFCC had yet to state if the fund had been found.

The probe launched by the EFCC into the finances of Rivers State under former Governor Peter Odili has yet to see the light of day. The EFCC had said it was investigating Odili, the husband of a retired justice of the Supreme Court, for N100bn fraud in 2012. Although there was a perpetual court injunction restraining the Federal Government and its agencies, including the EFCC, from probing, arresting or prosecuting him, the former acting chairman of the agency, Ibrahim Magu, in 2020 said the case would be reopened.

It could not be ascertained if the commission had eventually reopened the case. Odili left office since 2007.

A former governor of Abia State, Theodore Orji, and his sons, Chinedu and Ogbonna, were also under the EFCC’s probe in 2021 for alleged misappropriation of public funds and money laundering to the tune of N551bn. In 2018, the former governor was also accused by the commission of mismanaging N27bn disbursed to the state by the Central Bank of Nigeria for Small and Medium Enterprise during his tenure as governor.

Also, former Governor of Gombe State, Danjuma Goje, was arraigned in 2011 shortly after the end of his eight-year tenure over fraud to the tune of N5bn. The agency however withdrew from the case and handed it over to the office of the Attorney-General for continuation of prosecution. The AGF thereafter entered Nolle prosequi in the matter shortly after the former governor stepped down for Ahmad Lawan, the candidate of the party, to emerge as the Senate President of the ninth National Assembly.

The governor of Sokoto State between 2007 and 2015, Aliyu Wammako, was accused by the EFCC of allegedly diverting N15bn. While the EFCC said the former governor would be invited for interaction, he had yet to be charged to court till date. The former governor had dared the commission that he was ready for legitimate trial.

Also, the anti-graft agency alleged that a former Bayelsa State Governor and immediate past Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, alongside some other persons conspired and used three companies; Marlin Maritime Limited, Eat Catering Services Limited, and Halloween-Blue Construction and Logistics Limited to launder about N19.2bn.

A court case was instituted on the matter in 2012 when the EFCC through a motion sought for an interim order for the forfeiture of 48 houses allegedly belonging to Sylva, which was granted by Justice Mohammed. It also pursued a separate N6bn fraud case against Sylva before Justice Evoh Chukwu of the Federal High Court.

The case was also struck out over the inability of the EFCC to serve Sylva’s co-defendants had caused a setback in upturning the 2015 judgment. The case has been pending before the appellate court since December 22, 2015, and about 48 houses allegedly seized from the former governor have since been returned to him.

A former governor of Enugu State, Sullivan Chime, was also accused by the EFCC of mismanaging the resources of the state and receiving part of the N23bn allegedly shared by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke for Jonathan’s re-election campaign in 2015.

It was reported that although many persons involved in the N23bn Diezani fund have been charged, there has been no update on Chime’s case. The EFCC said in 2017 that Chime was still under investigation.

A former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, was arrested in June 2015 for alleged embezzlement of public funds during his eight years as governor of. He was however granted bail. The EFCC said in February 2016 that the former governor was still under probe. His administration was said to have received over N300bn from the federation account between 2003 and 2011, an amount the EFCC alleged was mismanaged. As of press time, there was no update on the investigations.

A former Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido, who was governor of the state from 2007 to 2015 is currently standing trial with two of his sons – Aminu and Mustapha – before a Federal High Court in Abuja for alleged N1.35bn fraud.

While Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu adjourned the matter till February 18, 19 and 20, 2020, for continuation of trial, not much has been heard about the case in recent times.

Also, a former governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako, who served from 2007 until his impeachment in 2014, was accused alongside eight others by the agency of money laundering to the tune of N29bn. The Court of Appeal in January 2022 ordered that the case be returned to the Federal High Court for trial, after Nyako entered a no-case submission.

Former Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, was also accused by the EFCC of N6.9bn fraud. The case is ongoing in court, a matter the current leadership is expected to follow to its logical conclusion.

Also, a former Governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang, is facing trial for alleged fraud to the tune of N6.3bn. The EFCC slammed 12 counts bordering on misappropriation of funds. The court acquitted him of the charges, but the commission planned to appeal the case. To public knowledge, the appeal has yet to be filed.

In the same vein, a former Niger State governor, Babangida Aliyu, and two others were accused of diverting N2bn ecological fund. The EFCC has closed its case in the matter, but not much has been of the case since then.

A former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, was also under investigation for alleged N3.1bn money laundering charges. The trial court, the Federal High Court Abuja has until May 2023 adjourned the case. Hence, the new leadership is expected to follow-up on the case.

The former governor was first arraigned in 2015 before Justice Ahmed Mohammed in the same Abuja division of the court but Justice Mohammed withdrew from the case in July 2019 following a Sahara Reporter’s story accusing him of unethical practices in respect of the case.

Suswam and his ex-commissioner were subsequently re-arraigned before Justice Okon Abang on September 30, 2019.

Also, a former Governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim, had been accused and was being prosecuted by the agency for $2.2m fraud. The matter had been in court but has yet to be concluded based on our correspondents’ findings.

On November 12, 2021, a former Edo State governor, Lucky Igbinedion, was charged for N1.6bn fraud. He was taken into custody by the operatives of the EFCC. The matter has yet to be concluded as of press time.

A former Minister of Aviation, Senator Stella Oduah, was also charged for alleged N5bn fraud. The matter has continued to drag in the court, a development the current leadership is expected to see to its logical end.

Meanwhile, the cases involving Dasuki and Alison-Madueke have yet to be concluded. For Dasuki, the EFCC accused him of diverting $2.1bn arms fund, while Alison-Madueke had said ir traced N47.2bn, $487.5m to the ex-minister.

Some lawyers who spoke to Sunday PUNCH charged the EFCC to reopen the pending and follow-up on the cases involving the former governors.

The new chairman, who assumed office on Thursday, has vowed to reposition and refocus the commission for optimal effectiveness.

A statement by the commission’s spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, quoted him as saying, “We are going to drive professionalism in discharging our duties in line with the rule of law. The rule of law is going to be our guiding light. We are going to drive EFCC to a place that when you see EFCC personnel, you will see a touch of professionalism. We are also going to be involved more in prevention, because it is better to save money for the government than to spend money in prosecution”.

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