Friday, July 13, 2007

EFCC guns for Nnamani, Dariye, Nyame, Haruna * Yar'Adua backs ex-Govs' arrest

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is expanding its latest crackdown on former governors, according to indications yesterday.At least four more ex-governors may be arrested soon in addition to the two — Chief Orji Kalu (Abia) and Alhaji Saminu Turaki (Jigawa)— who were taken in by the commission on Wednesday.
Those that may be picked up next, Vanguard gathered last night, are Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu), The Reverend Jolly Nyame (Taraba), Mr. Boni Haruna (Adamawa) and Chief Joshua Dariye (Plateau).
In fact, a report last night said two of these had been arrested, but there was no confirmation. But Vanguard gathered that Chief Dariye was at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja yesterday to keep an appointment with the Commission. He was back home in Jos last night.
Vanguard gathered yesterday that the EFCC action was with the nod of President Umaru Yar’Adua who thought the fight against corruption should be given a fresh impetus.
Chief Kalu and Alhaji Turaki, according to sources last night, may be arraigned in court today for alleged corruption and money laundering.Sources said Chief Kalu returned home early Wednesday to keep an appointment with President Yar’Adua for a meeting on the much talked about Unity Government.
One source at a party in London attended by Chief Kalu early in the week said he spoke of returning to Nigeria for an appointment with the president on the unity government. He was arrested at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja on his arrival.
Sources at the Commission said yesterday it (EFCC) had discovered that former Governor Turaki allegedly floated four companies through which he executed state government projects in the state.
The companies, Gethel Gansus Construction and Engineering Ltd, Wallong Canco Nigerian Ltd, Wild Cat Construction Ltd and Arch Construction Company Ltd. were allegedly awarded contracts estimated at about N5 billion.
Governor Sule Lamido had, on assumption of office on May 29 this year, set up a committee to probe the contracts awarded the four companies by his predecessor in office.
One Bashir Saminu Turaki, younger brother of the ex-governor had taken the state government to court, seeking to stop the verification and review of all contracts awarded by the former government.
The Federal High court in Kano ordered the suspension of all inquiries contained in the terms of reference of the committee especially with particular reference to the four companies.
Sources said when the attention of President Umaru Yar’Adua was drawn to the sleaze, efforts to get the former governor to co-operate with his successor failed.Consequently, it was learnt that the EFCC was asked to carry out its statutory duties by arresting and prosecuting the former governor in line with the EFCC ActIt was learnt that the former governor and his Abia State counterpart had been evading attempts by the EFCC to get them to enter a plea bargain with the Commission as agreed by the President and the former governors.
EFCC sources said the two former governors are likely to be docked as soon as possible while the option of negotiations are being pursued in line with the general agreement between the ex-governors and President Yar’Adua.
We are set to probe Nnamani, others —Task force
Meanwhile, the Joint Task Force on Anti-Corruption set up by the presidency says it has concluded plan to probe former Governor Chimaroke Nnamani and other ex-governors accused of corruption and other misconduct while in office.
Executive Secretary of the Code of Conduct Bureau, Mr. Sam Saba, speaking in Enugu yesterday, said the immediate past governor of Enugu State had a case to answer before the Joint Task force on Anti-Corruption.
Saba, who spoke with reporters shortly after presenting a paper at a public forum organised by the Code of Conduct Bureau in collaboration with UNDP for the South-East Zone, said the Bureau had concluded plans to reopen cases of corruption against former governors who earlier went to court to get injunctions restraining them from carrying out their duties effectively.
According to him, the Bureau would not relent in its fight against corruption, warning public office holders who have not declared their assets to do so in their own interests.
“We will reopen cases against ex-governors who went to court to get injunctions that restrained us from carrying out our duties. They are not free yet. We call on the public to supply us with vital information on the affected persons,” he said.
Saba said the task force was set up by former President Obasanjo to continue the fight against corruption.The CCB Secretary said members of the joint task force were drawn from the Police, State Security Service, ICPC, Code of Conduct Bureau and EFCC, adding that each of the organisations contributed five of its staff to the joint task force.
No ill feelings on Turaki's arrest —ex-SSG
However, former Secretary to the Jigawa State Government, Alhaji Lawan Ya’u Roni, said yesterday that supporters of the ex-governor harboured no ill-feeling against anyone following his arrest and detention by the EFCC.
Alhaji Roni told journalists that the arrest was simply an act of God, stressing that effort was being intensified to secure his release.“The arrest of Senator Turaki is simply an act of destiny and something from God. Millions of his loyalists and admirers harbour no grudge against anyone, nor are we blaming anyone for it. It is just something from God,” he said.
The former SSG said they had embarked on prayers seeking divine intervention that might see him through the travail, pointing out that the “Almighty God has His reason for making it to happen that way.”

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