A building housing an apartment occupied by two sons of Atiku Abubakar was searched by anti-graft operatives in Abuja over the weekend, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.
The building also houses an apartment occupied by Chiemeka Orji, son of ex-Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji. That apartment was also reportedly searched by anti-graft operatives.
Although our sources said the home of Mr Abubakar's children was the primary target, an anti-graft spokesperson suggested Chiemeka might have been the target.
The raid on Aliyu and Mustapha Atiku-Abubakar's residence in the posh Maitama neighbourhood on Saturday comes a day after claims emerged that Mr Abubakar's running mate, Peter Obi, had his bank accounts frozen by federal authorities. Two anti-graft agencies, EFCC and ICPC, denied freezing Mr Obi's accounts.
Paul Ibe, a spokesperson for the Atiku Abubakar family, confirmed the search to PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday, saying the officers who conducted the "grievous act of intimidation" were "unable to find anything implicating."
While no specific law enforcement agencies were immediately linked to the purported block of Mr Obi's accounts raised by the Peoples Democratic Party, sources informed about the raid on the home of the presidential candidate's sons said those who executed the search were from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Neither Aliyu nor Mustapha was in town when the anti-graft agents arrived -- as both are said to be studying for master's degrees at foreign universities -- but those with whom they share the building were reportedly taken to the EFCC office and some of their properties confiscated, sources said.
Amongst those arrested was Chiemeka whose father is now a serving senator and a subject of an ongoing EFCC corruption investigation.
Chiemeka was said to have been taken to the EFCC office in Abuja alongside his brother, and two vehicles confiscated from them.
"When the EFCC officers arrived on Saturday, they met Theodore Orji's sons at home, because they both live in the same building," a source said. "They asked to see the apartment of Aliyu and Mustapha Atiku-Abubakar but Theodore Orji's sons refused to show them, saying their friends are out of the country, anyway."
"The EFCC operatives then said they have intelligence that a large cache of dollars had been kept in the apartment which they had come to recover," the source said. "They forcibly searched the apartment, but there was no hard currency or anything that could be construed as fraudulently damning."
Our sources said Chiemeka and his brother were released soon after they were questioned at the EFCC office, but two cars belonging to them were still in possession of the anti-graft agency as of Monday morning.
Chiemeka could not be reached for comments, with his telephone line refusing to connect after multiple dials. Aliyu Atiku-Abubakar also did not immediately return messages seeking comments from PREMIUM TIMES.
A spokesperson for the EFCC said he has no immediate knowledge of the operation, but expressed strong doubts that Mr Abubakar's son's home could be raided.
Tony Orilade said the EFCC has been investigating Mr Orji, and it was possible the former governor's children were the target of further investigation into how state funds were used during his tenure from 2007 to 2015.
Coming over the same weekend that the PDP alleged restrictions were placed on the bank accounts of Mr Obi and his family, as well as claims that EFCC attempted to arrest Doyin Okupe, a PDP top shot, Mr Ibe accused the Buhari administration of raising the stakes of 2019 election higher than the country could absorb.
"Atiku Abubakar is destined to win the 2019 presidential election, and Nigerians are set to ensure that destiny holds by voting for him en masse," Mr Ibe said. "The actors in Buhari's government have now realised this possibility and are gripped by the fears of Atiku Abubakar."
"This grievous act of intimidation now has an expiry date that is dwindling faster than a twinkle," Mr Ibe said.