The Abia State Government has accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of sloppy investigation and threatened court action if the agency does not unseal the properties it recently marked.
In a statement signed by Uche Ihediwa, Esq, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice,the state expressed its diapleasure at the action of the EFCC.
He stated “Some few days ago, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in brazen disregard of the regulatory, enforcement and investigative provisions of the law establishing the Commission purported to mark and seal assets and/or properties of the Abia State in various locations in the State Capital, Umuahia under the guise that these assets and/or properties were under investigation. These properties are –
1. The Abia Mall
2. The Housing Estate at Adelabu Street, Umuahia
3. The former Township main market at Ogwumabiri
4. The Millennium Luxury Apartments, Umuahia
5. Abia Hotels
6. Linto Estate, Old Timber Shed
“In 2016, the same Commission, EFCC, investigated the ownership of most of these properties. The Certificates of Occupancy and Public Private Partnership Agreements between the State Government and Investors in respect of the properties were duly submitted or tendered before the Commission at the time, which documents the Commission found satisfactory.
“It is pertinent to note that the properties listed above belong to the Abia State Government and are not under investigation by the EFCC.
“Abia State Government duly entered into arrangements with credible investors for the development of these properties under Public Private Partnerships, which means that the reversionary interests in these properties still reside in the State Government.
“Sections 28 and 29 (a) of the law establishing the Commission, ie, the Economic and Financial Crimes (Establishment) Act, Cap E1, LFN 2004 makes it clear that the Commission can only attach or seal the properties of persons arrested for an offence under the Act. As noted earlier in this briefing, ownership of the propertied by the Abia State Government is not subject of any EFCC investigation.
“With particular reference to the Housing Estate at Adelabu Street, the estate was initially to be developed by investors under Public Private Partnership arrangements but later terminated for non performance by the developers/investors. The Adelabu estate under my watch as Commissioner for Housing was later built with direct labor by the Housing Ministry with the approval of the State Government. The houses in the estate, on completion were allocated to individuals who paid for the allocations and continue to pay ground rents to the State Government.
“Also, the Abia Mall is in receivership as a result of the failure of the investor to pay back bank facilities. Had the Commission done a due diligence check, it would have unearthed this fact without shooting itself on the foot.
“The unwarranted and unlawful actions of the EFCC has fine incalculable harm to the economy of the State by scaring away high profile investors from the State. This also sends a negative signal to investors planning to invest in Nigeria.
“In the light of the foregoing, the EFCC is hereby given Seven (7) days from today to remove the offensive and provocative notices placed on the above listed properties or estates. The EFCC must tender an apology to the Abia State Government within the same period.
“Failure to comply with these demands will leave the State Government with no option but to seek appropriate redress in a court of law”
Yobe Governor, Buni Marries Abacha’s Divorced Daughter, Gumsu
Yobe Governor Mai Mala Buni on Wednesday married Gumsu Sani Abacha in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The marriage was held at the Abuja residence of the new wife’s brother, Mohammed Abacha.
Buni is the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker National Chairman; Gumsu is a daughter of former Head of State, Sani Abacha.
Notable personalities and government officials, including the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Hameed Ali attended.
In 2019, shortly after he assumed office, Buni tied the knot with Ummy, a daughter of his predecessor and incumbent Yobe East Senator Ibrahim Gaidam.
Gumsu, 45, is the governor’s fourth wife. Her marriage to Cameroonian multi-billionaire, Bayero Mohamadou crashed in 2020.
Wike Locks Down Rivers for LGA Elections
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has ordered restriction of movement ahead of the local government election in the state.
The election is slated for Saturday, April 17 across 4,442 polling units, 319 wards and 23 local government areas.
In a broadcast on Thursday, Wike said the restriction from Friday night to Saturday is needed to ensure the smooth conduct of the election by the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RVSIEC).
The governor assured residents that security agencies will provide adequate protection at all the polling units and collation centres.
“Consequently, vehicular and human movements, within and out of the state and the local government areas is hereby totally restricted from the midnight of Friday, 16th April, 2021, until the end of polling at 5pm on Saturday, 17th April, 2021, except for persons and vehicles strictly on essential duties with genuine and valid identifications,” Wike said.
“The security agencies have been directed to strictly enforce the restriction on human and vehicular movements and arrest and prosecute any person who dares to violate this ban. I have been briefed and received assurances from the RVSIEC that it is fully prepared and ready not only to conduct, but also to ensure that polling is hitch-free, fair and credible.
“Furthermore, the security agencies have clear directives to arrest and deal decisively with any person or group of persons, no matter how highly placed, who attempts to prevent the peaceful and orderly conduct of the election or compromise its integrity in any way.
“We call on community leaders and the general public to be vigilant and promptly report every suspicious movement and or illegal activity around polling units and collation centres in their localities to the security agencies for immediate action.”
Wike added that his administration will always ensure the promotion of democratic principles, including the election of officials at local government levels across the state.
“As a government that believes in the practice and consolidation of democracy, and in fulfilment of our constitutional duty to ensure the sustenance of democratically-elected local government councils in the state, we have since decided never to run our local government system with caretaker committees, except in inevitably justifiable circumstances,” he said.
“It is against this background that this election has been fixed to once again give our people the opportunity to effectively participate in the process of electing and constituting the next set of chairmen and councillors to administer the 23 local government councils.”
The governor urged voters to conduct themselves peacefully and refrain from any act of violence, adding that the election is not a do-or-die affair.
EFCC Frees Okorocha after Two Days Detention
Rochas Okorocha, former governor of Imo state, has been released from the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), two days after he was invited for questioning.
Okorocha, who is currently representing Imo west at the senate, was grilled at the EFCC office in Abuja on Tuesday, over issues bothering on alleged corruption.
The former governor, who was in charge of Imo from 2011 to 2019, had been accused by the state government of various corrupt practices including diversion of public funds — although Okorocha has denied any wrongdoing.
Documents obtained by TheCable showed how the former governor awarded 12 contracts worth N20 billion in violation of the public procurement act.
TheCable had also reported how a government committee uncovered N112.8 billion “dubious debts”, which various banks owed the state during Okorocha’s tenure.
Sam Onwuemeodo, Okorocha’s media adviser, confirmed that Okorocha left the custody of the anti-graft agency on Thursday.
“With gratitude to God Almighty, we are delighted to inform the general public that the former governor of lmo state, and by the grace of God, the Senator representing lmo west senatorial district, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, is out of the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and he is now in his house,” the statement reads.
“He left the Commission’s office on the afternoon of Thursday, April 15, 2021.”
Onwuemeodo, who described Okorocha’s invitation to the EFCC’s office as a “trip” said the former governor had earlier given the assurance that he will cooperate fully with the agency.
“We didn’t bother about whether he spent 24 hours or 48 hours at the Commission’s office. We were only keen in his having the needed opportunity to address the allegations contained in the avalanche of petitions written by the lmo State Government, against the former governor,” the spokesman said.
“Remember also that we had alluded that EFCC was not a slaughter house, but a responsible institution, established for the good of the nation and her people. And Okorocha being in his house today, only confirmed our hypothesis that, indeed, the Commission’s office is not an abattoir.”