Closing In On Corrupt Governors
Monday, October 02, 2006
Nuhu Ribadu, chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, names corrupt public officers and vows to prosecute them
Nuhu Ribadu, chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, stunned the nation last Wednesday, when he declared some state governors guilty of corrupt practices. Ribadu, who went to the Senate, told the legislators that of all the 36 state governors, only five could not be linked with corruption. The governors who received a clean bill of health of the EFCC boss are Donald Duke, Cross River State, Danjuma Goje, Gombe State, Bukola Saraki, Kwara State, Abba Ibrahim, Yobe State, Adamu Aliero, Kebbi State and Peter Obi of Anambra State. The states whose governors were indicted by the EFCC are: Uzor Kalu of Abia, Boni Haruna, Adamawa, Chimaroke Nnamani, Enugu, Ayo Fayose, Ekiti, Joshua Dariye, Plateau, Jolly Nyame, Taraba and Ahmad Sani, Zamfara.
Others under investigations are governors of Osun, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Borno, Delta, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Edo, Ebonyi, Katsina, Niger, Ondo, Oyo, Lagos, Rivers, Sokoto and Ogun.
Ribadu said that based on petitions against these governors, EFCC investigated them and found that they were connected with mismanagement of funds, money laundering, diversion of funds, embezzlement and corrupt practices.
Ribadu said that Kalu of Abia State "privatised the state fund." According to him, the governor used the names of his mother, wife, brother and son to divert the state's funds in excess of N35 billion, with which he built his business empire, which includes Slok Shipping and Slok Airline, among others.
In Anambra State, he said the commission investigated Chris Ngige, former governor, and the State House of Assembly for criminal diversion and misappropriation of funds. He said the commission found out that the fund diverted by Ngige was passed through Princess Uzor Okonkwo.
In Adamawa State, Ribadu said Governor Boni Haruna colluded with the chairmen of 19 local government councils to divert statutory allocations. According to him, investigations have been concluded and arrangements are being made to charge the Governor and the commissioner of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs to court.
The commission compiled a 32-page report on alleged fund diversion and contract inflation by Chimaroke Nnamani, governor of Enugu State. Ribadu said the governor withdrew money meant for local councils and was even paying local government statutory allocations in cash rather than lodging them into their accounts which made it easy for him to divert the money. According to Ribadu, EFCC uncovered cases of over pricing of contracts in addition to some illegally acquired assets both in Nigeria and abroad by the governor.
In Ekiti State, Governor Ayo Fayose and Abiodun Olujimi, his deputy were investigated for illegal diversion of funds, money laundering and operation of foreign accounts.
The EFCC chairman said that Achike Udenwa, of Imo State and some state officials were accused of diverting N56 million from each of the 24 local governments for an abandoned road project.
Saminu Turaki, governor of Jigawa State, was accused of diversion of funds and using stolen funds to sponsor pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. Ribadu said the Plateau State House of Assembly directly took money from the state government in collusion with Joshua Dariye, the governor of the state.
The EFCC boss further said that in Sokoto, Attahiru Bafarawa with an unnamed individual were being investigated, while in Zamfara State, Governor Ahmad Sani and some top members of his government are also to be tried. "The case of Zamfara is a tragedy. I mean direct stealing from the safe. Direct stealing, no third party, outright stealing by the governor himself," Ribadu alleged.
Peter Odili of Rivers State along with three local council chairmen are also being investigated for alleged embezzlement and diversion of public funds. In the case of Kwara State, Muhammed Lawal, former governor, was investigated for alleged diversion of funds.
Lucky Igbinedion, governor of Edo State, is being investigated for diversion of statutory allocation and 13 percent oil revenue. The wife of Goodluck Jonathan, governor of Bayelsa State is equally being investigated for alleged laundering N104 of million.
Ribadu stated that the commission had recovered more than N50 billion from the impeached Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, former governor of Bayelsa State.
He added that the commission received a total of 4,324 petitions since its establishment and made more than 2000 arrests. He said the commission also recovered some assets and cash of $5 billion in addition to houses, lands, cars, airplanes and oil tankers from fraudulent individuals.
Ken Nnamani, president of the senate, commended the EFCC for its achievements, adding that the commission is required in Nigeria. "Contrary to some opinions, the EFCC is not a tool of the executive, but that of the National Assembly. "The EFCC epitomises our fight against corruption. We shall support them as they go after the big crooks in our country," Nnamani said.
Meanwhile, some of the state governors have been reacting to the allegations of corruption against them.
Bola Tinubu, governor of Lagos State, whose name was mentioned described the EFCC announcement as a desperate attempt by the Federal Government to nail the opposition. Dele Alake, Lagos State Commissioner of Information, said there was no price too high to pay for the advancement of democracy and the expansion of the political space. According to him, this is not the first time that the state governor would be hounded and it is because he is a member of the opposition.
Alake said: "He is being pilloried for taking a principled and critical position on crucial national affairs."
Gboyega Oguntuase, Ekiti State Commissioner of Information, Sports, Culture and Social Development, who spoke on behalf of Ayo Fayose, governor of Ekiti State, said there was no iota of truth in the charges. Oguntuase said that the EFCC was only representing the interest of opponents of the government. "It is highly shameful. The EFCC is certainly on the side of the political enemies of the government," he said.
Festus Okubor, Delta State commissioner for information, said the EFCC by the law establishing it, had a right to carry out investigation. According to him, EFCC had not said anybody had been indicted in Delta State. Okubor said that Delta State had been waiting for the ICPC and the EFCC since they said . They were coming, but we have not seen them. He said let them carry out their investigations because "Delta State is confident of what we have done in the state." Ibori cannot be found guilty because he has always insisted on transparency and accountability," Okubor said.
Iyke Ekeoma, Abia State special adviser to the governor, said that was a total distraction by Nuhu Ribadu and the EFCC because the ongoing allegations of corruption in the Presidency have not been addressed by the EFCC.
"Nuhu Ribadu is not a law court. If there is a clear case, he should go to court. Ours is a rehash of old accusations and they are bringing them up because our governor has raised a fundamental issue that they have failed to address," Ekeoma said.