The anti-corruption campaign of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration appears to have taken a bigger bite as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has secretly frozen the bank accounts of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s associates
According to Punch, the move by the anti-graft agency was aimed at scuttling the transfer of the alleged looted funds from the accounts for other reasons.
A member of a key transition committee of the All Progressives Congress, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, on Friday, said the need had become necessary in view of the magnitude of the alleged theft of public resources by the affected persons.
The APC chieftain spoke on the heels of the condemnation of President Buhari’s ongoing probe of the last administration of the Peoples Democratic Party and recovery of funds looted by public officials.
The affected accounts belonged to Keketobou Foundation, owned by former Special Adviser to Jonathan on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, and Mieka Divers Limited as well as Global West Vessels Limited reportedly owned by ex-Niger Delta warlord, Mr. Government Ekpompolo, aka Tompolo.
Further investigations by our correspondents also showed that one of Jonathan’s close allies, Mr. Kime Engozi’s accounts had also been flagged.
Engozi is the contractor handling the N30bn Maritime University contract at Okerenkoko in the Gbaramatu area of Delta State.
Besides, funds already approved for the commencement of the university are said to have remained frozen in a Yenagoa branch of the United Bank for Africa Plc.
The NIMASA Technical College at Okoloba, also in Delta State, is also said to be facing an uncertain future as there are fears that the institution might be scrapped.
Accounts linked to the former Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, are also said to have been frozen by the EFCC.
The source, who is now in the Presidency, said although he could not confirm if Jonathan’s recent meeting with Buhari discussed the issue, the action to ‘flag’ the said accounts might have been for security reasons.
The source also said the opposition Peoples Democratic Party was ignorant of the workings of the Federal Government, especially on security.
The source added, “This is not a matter of lobby or any politics that should be shoved aside; what is at stake is the nation’s security and nothing more.
“When the PDP says the current anti-corruption drive is selective, we continue to laugh at them because they do not seem to know what is at stake at all. If only they know, all the noise they have been making won’t be made at all.
“How many of these PDP elements know that just one individual benefitted from a single NIMASA transaction to the tune of N13bn, not to talk of about $57m he was said to have benefitted from controversial contract deals?
“Are these the things they ask us to sweep under the carpet? Certainly, we cannot because apart from the angle of the impunity and financial recklessness, does it make any sense if any responsible government allows such individuals, who had threatened war in the event that Jonathan did not win to have such huge sums in bank vaults? Such accounts must be flagged, of course.”
However, the PDP has asked President Buhari to follow the rule of law in his government’s determination to fight corruption.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Olisa Metuh, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday night, asked the President not to spare anyone, including his friends and members of the ruling APC in the crusade.
Metuh said, “We are not against the war against corruption, but what we are saying is that the President must follow the rule of law.
“The law says every accused person is innocent until proven otherwise. Then, the President must also look at his party; he shouldn’t spare his friends.
“If any of our members is found to be corrupt, let them face the law of the land. But no one should be tagged as being corrupt when the court has not said so.”
He also asked the President to fund the anti-corruption agencies adequately, while saying that the agencies should also conduct what he described as “water-tight investigations” before rushing to the court.
Repeated calls to the mobile telephone set of the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, were neither picked nor returned.
Also he had yet to reply a text message sent to him at 8.52pm, asking for his comments on charges that the APC-led administration was hounding members of the opposition PDP and associates of Jonathan, as of the time of filing this report.
Tompolo is not under any investigations by the EFCC, but Kuku has a date to keep with the anti-graft agency in September, having gone for a knee surgery in the United States of America in July, while the former NIMASA boss has been under investigation for over month.
However, Akpobolokemi’s interaction with the EFCC has been linked to business deals by him while he held sway at NIMASA and the ex-warlord.
It was also learnt that EFCC’s seizure of Akpobolokemi’s international passport and a N38m worth bullet-proof Toyota Landcruiser was already heightening speculations that he might be prosecuted if findings by the investigators indict him.
At least three close aides and confidants of the ex-NIMASA boss, including the current Executive Director in charge of Maritime Safety and Shipping Development, Mr. Ezekiel Bala Agaba, have been guests of the EFCC in the last ten days.
Deborah Samuel: Gov Tambuwal relaxes curfew
Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State government has relaxed the 24-hour curfew he imposed on the state capital following violent protest over the arrest of some youths allegedly involved in the killing Deborah Samuel, a 200-level student.
Tambuwal in a statement issued by his Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Isah Bajini, said the revised curfew will now be from dusk to dawn in Sokoto township.
The statement noted that “Sequel to the briefing by the security heads in the State, the State Governor, Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has ordered the relaxation of the 24-hour curfew in force in Sokoto metropolis
“The revised curfew will now be from dusk to dawn in Sokoto township. This is with a view to affording people the window to pursue their legitimate businesses and other means of livelihood.”
Recall that following the lynching of the 200-level student for allegedly insulting Prophet Mohammed, the State’s police command arrested some persons linked to the incident.
However, a large number of Muslim boys who were angered by the arrest, stormed the streets in the State on Saturday, demanding the release of the suspects.
The development, which triggered tension in several parts of the State, made the Governor to impose the curfew.
Arsonists burn down LG secretariat, Magistrate Court in Anambra
Suspected arsonists have burnt down Idemili North Local Government secretariat in Ogidi and a Magistrate Court in the area.
Sources said the arsonists entered the premises on Sunday night to perpetuate the act, burning down all files, properties in the secretariat, including the secretariat building.
Videos and pictures circulating online showed that the entire buildings were reduced to rubbles, while vehicles parked inside the Local Government secretariat were also burnt to ashes.
The State Police Command has also confirmed the development, attributing it to unidentified arsonists.
DSP Toochukwu Ikenga, the spokesperson of the State Police Command said: “Yes, the incident was confirmed, and our men were there to restore normalcy.
“Right now, the fire has been put off, and calm has been restored to the area,” Ikenga said.
National Assembly transmits amended Electoral Act to Buhari
The National Assembly has transmitted the amended Electoral Act 2022 to the Presiden Muhammadu Buhari for assent.
The bill was transmitted to the Presidency on Friday.
Sources in the Presidency and the National Assembly confirmed the transmission.
A source in the Presidency, who spoke on the condition of anonymity as he had not been authorised to announce the development officially, said, “Yes, it has been transmitted. But wait till Monday when it may be announced when the President will sign it.”
Another source in the National Assembly said, “It was transmitted on Friday. I needed to confirm it before saying anything.”
It was further learnt that Buhari would sign the amendment ahead of primaries of political parties beginning next week.
The Senate and the House of Representatives had last week passed an amendment to the Act to recognise statutory delegates at primaries, congresses, and conventions of political parties.
The lawmakers particularly amended Section 84(8) of the Act to provide automatic or statutory delegates, ahead of the forthcoming party primaries, from where candidates would emerge for the 2023 general elections.
In March, the National Assembly had passed the bill for the Act while the President signed it into law.
While political parties are close to conducting primaries to elect candidates for the 2023 general elections, the Act did not allow members elected into public offices and executives of the parties, known as statutory delegates, to participate and vote in the conventions, congresses, or meetings of parties.
The chambers had described the omission as “a fundamental error.”
Without the provision by the law, Buhari; the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN); members of the National Assembly, governors and their deputies, members of the State Houses of Assembly, chairmen of local government areas, councillors, executives of political parties, amongst others, would have been disenfranchised.
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