EFCC arrests ex-Anambra Gov, Willie Obiano at Lagos airport

Executive Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday arrested the immediate past governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano.

Obiano, who stepped down as governor today having completed the maximum two terms of eight years, which the Constitution allows for governors, was picked up at about 8.30 pm at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.

His successor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, took oath of office today the Government House in Awka.

Obiano, who was at the occasion left shortly after Soludo was sworn in.

He was billed to fly to Houston Texas in the United States of America.

The former governor was placed on EFCC watchlist in November 2021.

In a letter to the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) dated November 15, 2021, EFCC requested the NIS to place the governor on watchlist and inform it anytime he was travelling out of the country from any of the International airports and other points of entry and exit.

It was not clear why the anti-graft agency placed the former governor on watchlist. But knowledgeable sources said the move then was an indication that the agency may have been discreetly investigating the governor and possibly had intelligence that he planned to travel after handing over power to his successor, Charles Soludo.

But Obiano who was holidaying then in Houston took exception to the Commission’s move which he said was politically motivated.

He accused the EFCC of becoming a tool in the hands of desperados who failed to install one of their own as governor of Anambra State.

Obiano, in the statement by his the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C.Don Adinuba, said the EFCC went a new low when it provided no details of how Obiano had been placed on its watch list.

The statement said besides a reference to a letter it purportedly wrote on November 15, 2021, to the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) asking it to inform the anti-graft agency anytime the governor was travelling out of the country, there was nothing to show how Obiano became a target of the EFCC.

The statement read in part. “Everything that can be wrong with politically motivated statements like this one is obviously wrong with this statement. The EFCC knows full well that it is acting inelegantly in this instance, and so has tried as much as possible not to make an official public statement on the alleged placing of Chief Obiano on the watch list. It furtively gave a section of the media the news report it wrote based on ostensibly its letter to the NIS on November 15.

“Governor Obiano is out of the country currently. And he travelled through one of the country’s international airports. He did not disguise himself, but rather left the country with his identity fully disclosed at the necessary immigration point.

“The EFCC sounded more inelegant when it claimed in the sponsored press report that it received intelligence reports that the governor plans to “flee” from Nigeria once he hands over power next March 17 to the newly elected Anambra State governor, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo. Chief Obiano has never left any persons in doubt that he will relocate to his base in the United States once he finishes his tenure.

“As early as Wednesday, March 4, 2020, he announced his decision to a meeting of the Anambra State Council of Elders, comprising such personages as the erstwhile Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe who is also the chairman of both the Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers and the Southeast Council of Traditional Rulers; a former Anambra State governor, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife; an ex-Minister of Women Affairs, Iyom Josephine Anenih, mni; the founding Director-General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Professor Elochukwu Amucheazi; the Archbishop Emeritus of the Anglican Church in Anambra State, The Most Reverend Dr Maxwell Anikwenwa; and the Catholic Bishop of the Awka Diocese, Rev Dr Paulinus Ezeokafor.

“Governor Obiano has a whole four months to remain in office as the Anambra State chief executive. Nobody in Nigeria can circumscribe his constitutionally conferred immunity which shields him from both criminal and civil prosecution. The EFCC went too far to announce in November that it is observing him. We are not aware of any state governor who had up to four months to be in office and the EFCC went on to sponsor media reports that he was being investigated.

“It is, indeed strange that the EFCC is making a show that it is investigating a high public officer. Anti-corruption agencies, like intelligence services, conduct their investigations discreetly, and not on pages of newspapers. Media trial has never benefitted the EFCC.

“The whole nation knows those behind all the present histrionics about Obiano. They are those who didn’t want the November 6 election to hold. They are those in high places who unsuccessfully canvassed for emergency rule in Anambra supposedly on security grounds. They are those who masterminded the Birnin Kudu High Court charade in Jigawa State over the APGA leadership and, more importantly, the authentic APGA candidate in the November gubernatorial election in Anambra State.

“They are those responsible for the sacrilege of a customary court in Abuja issuing criminal summons to Professor Soludo, a former Central Bank of Nigeria governor. These people are still fighting the gubernatorial battle on behalf of their badly defeated friends and political associates in the Anambra vote. They will fail badly, as they have done in the recent past.

“The EFCC should not allow itself to be used by politicians who are mere birds of passage. Its ongoing Anambra drama is in bad taste. It did not serve Governor Obiano any notice. Nor did it invite him to answer questions about his service record. It just went to the press. Yet, the governor is willing to answer any questions about his years in office. After all, he has received a prestigious award from the United Nations Development Programme for social service integrity.”

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The OPINION / COLUMN is authored by independent contributors to the National Accord Newspaper. While contributors adhere to our editorial guidelines, they are not employed by the National Accord Newspaper. The perspectives and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of the National Accord Newspaper or its staff.

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