7 January 2013

Nigeria: EFCC Moves Against Three Governors

Strong indications emerged last night that the high-wire politics and horse trading for 2015 are under way: three serving governors -- Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers) and Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta) -- are being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

LEADERSHIP further gathered that the operatives of the anti-graft agencies had launched investigations into the activities of some state governors and compiled certain alleged infractions against them.

Though the governors are protected from prosecution while in office by virtue of the immunity clause, the Supreme Court had held that the governors could be protected after the completion of their tenures.

Some stakeholders in the ruling PDP are rooting for Lamido/Amaechi ticket on the grounds that there is the need to put in place a young and dynamic team that will effect positive change on governance.

Though President Goodluck Jonathan is yet to make a formal pronouncement on whether or not he is going to contest the 2015 presidential poll, some analysts believe that the president has the constitutional right to seek a second term.

The situation was further compounded when Jonathan's posters flooded Abuja on January 1, 2013, informing those eyeing Aso Rock to forget the dream on the grounds that there was no vacancy in 2015.

The development prompted the spokesman of Jonathan, Dr Reuben Abati, to deny the involvement of the presidency in the matter, adding that the sponsors of the posters were on their own.

But a source close to the presidency confided in LEADERSHIP yesterday that the political permutations might not be too simplistic for those promoting the ascendancy of certain state governors to take over from Jonathan.

The source added that the three governors might get impeachment threats or receive the treatment meted out to a former Bayelsa State governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.

According to him, certain situations will soon take place which will send some messages to the governors that they are being monitored and may be embarrassed.

The source also confirmed that Lamido, Amaechi and Uduaghan are under the watchful eye of the EFCC, saying that the EFCC boss, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, had submitted their files to the president last week.

He said: "Before the middle of this year, you will see serious dramas between Mr. President and some governors. Already, Sule Lamido, Amaechi and Uduaghan are marked. Everything will be done to embarrass them including impeachment threats. May I inform you that Lamorde has already submitted their files to President Jonathan last week."

When contacted over the matter, the spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, claimed that he was not aware of the development.

The presidency has feigned ignorance of the development as none of its spokesmen is willing to speak on the matter.

Telephone calls and text messages sent to Abati and the senior special assistant on public affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, were not replied as at press time.

Amaechi's govt is used to EFCC's attacks - Official

Meanwhile, an official of the Rivers State government and immediate past chief press secretary to the governor, Mr. Blessing Wikina, has said the administration of Amaechi is used to the constant attacks by the EFCC.

Wikina, the director of information and communication technology (ICT) in the State Ministry of Information and Communications, told LEADERSHIP on telephone that the rumours of planned prosecution of the governor by the EFCC heightened because the country was approaching an election year.

He said: "We are not aware that the EFCC is investigating Governor Amaechi. But if they do, we will not be surprised because that is how the EFCC always behaves whenever the country is approaching an election year.

"The fact is that we are used to their antics and it will end the way other efforts of theirs ended. We are not afraid of them."

The governor's former aide wondered why the anti-graft agency would try to prosecute a government whose administration has received credit ratings from international organisations such as Standard & Poor's as well as Fitch for the past six years.

Wikina said: "Another point is that, for six consecutive years, Rivers State under Amaechi has been getting 'A' ratings from international organisations. If the Amaechi government is corrupt, why would an international organisation give the state government such rating?"

Efforts by LEADERSHIP to get the reactions of the state commissioner for information and communications, Mrs. Ibim Seminatari, as well as that of the chief press secretary to the governor, Mr. David Iyofor, proved abortive as their phone lines were switched off.

Delta is being investigated over airport project - Commissioner

Also reacting to the issue, the Delta State commissioner for information, Barrister Chike Ogeah, said: "Yes, it is true that some persons who claimed to be in the opposition have written a petition to the EFCC regarding the airport project. Yes, I am aware that as the chief executive of the state, he has to answer the case, because it beholds on him to answer; it is normal in a state like ours where the opposition keep an eye on projects, whether properly executed or not, as their weapon. All the same there is no cause for alarm."

But the Jigawa State director of press, Mr. Umar Kyari, stated that he was not aware of the issue.

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