Following the conclusion of the fraud case against Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has revved up the cases against 11 other former governors.
Kalu, who was Abia State governor between 1999 and 2007, was last week found guilty of N7.6 billion fraud and jailed for 12 years.
It was learnt that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has held a meeting of its prosecutors and detectives to review ongoing cases against former governors.
The meeting bordered on how to accelerate the trial of the ex-governors, especially those who have forfeited choice assets to the commission.
The session focused on removing legal bottlenecks and a termination of frivolous applications brought up to frustrate trial.
According to a document obtained by our correspondent, some of those on the list are Senator Chimaroke Nanamani (Enugu); Peter Odili (Rivers); Saminu Turaki(Jigawa); Ayo Fayose (Ekiti); Gbenga Daniel (Ogun); Ikedi Ohakim (Imo); Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Martins Elechi (Ebonyi); Gabriel Suswam (Benue); Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo); and Murtala Nyako.
The EFCC in November, through its counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, said it was ready to close its case against ex-Governor Murtala Nyako.
But Nyako pleaded with Justice Okon Abang to order the EFCC to produce its three witnesses for cross-examination.
An official, who spoke in confidence, said: “For hours, our legal team and crack detectives met on Friday and Saturday for hours on long-standing cases of some ex-governors in various courts with some as old as 12 years. We have such cases like those of Chimaroke Nnamani and Saminu Turaki.
“We decided to hold a review session on how to fast-track the conclusion of some of these cases. We have instances where some ex-governors have forfeited choice assets but awaiting the conclusion of their cases by a court.
“Some ex-governors have either deliberately delayed trial by hiding under the guise of ill-health or some frivolous applications that will run from the High Court to the Supreme Court and slowing down of trial through adjournments.
“A few others have accused judges of unethical practices leading to the reassignment of their cases. We know those we are dealing with and their capacity
“Our main goal is to see how we can collaborate with the Judiciary within the framework of the Administration of Criminal Justice (ACJA) to hasten these trials. We want to remove or limit all legal obstacles.
The source added: “We are also tidying up some loose ends to stop recourse to the re-arraignment of some of these suspects.
“Were it not for the illness of ex-Governor Chimaroke Nnamani, the EFCC has been anticipating the conclusion of his trial. More than all the suspects, the court has seized many assets linked with companies in which he allegedly had interest.
Nnamani was arraigned for allegedly diverting about N4.5billion Excess Crude cash. He is facing trial with Sunday Anyaogu, and six firms – Rainbownet, Hillgate Nigeria, Cosmos FM, Capital City Automobile Nig Ltd, Renaissance University Teaching Hospital and Mea Mater Elizabeth High School.
Some of his forfeited assets are undeveloped properties and transmission equipment of Rainbownet Limited; property of Hill Gate Investment Limited/Cuena Phones Limited; assets of Cosmo 105.5FM, and 22 duplexes at Ebeano Estate (now Fidelity Estate).
Others are Rainbownet’s shares in Zenith Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank, with a combined account balance of N4.6 million; as well as money in its bank accounts worth about N34.8 million and balance in 10 accounts with Access Bank. Rainbownet’s undeveloped property forfeited include seven plots at Independence Layout; 567.96 Square metres (Sqm) at Abakpa; 574.96 Sqm at Emene and 2,951.98 Sqm at Achara Layout.
Others forfeited include thousands of square metres of properties at Abia State, namely Ogbor Hill (914.633), Abayi (one and half plots), Port Harcourt Road (1,856.449), Ariaria (640.32), Umuagari (573.263) and Assannetu (954.396), as well as Abakiliki, Ebonyi State (one plot).
Also, in Onitsha, Anambra State, are Barracks (one plot), Nkpor (1088.644), Awada (465.14), Fegge (one plot); as well as 2,200.06 square miles of land at Okpumo, Awka.
The document obtained by The Nation indicate that the EFCC is set to wrap up some investigations in the cases of ex-Governors Peter Odili (N100b) and Martins Elechi. The ex-Ebonyi governor has been under probe over alleged $12m contract awarded to a United States-based firm, Califco Group, in 2012. The state government allegedly paid $10.8m to the firm in 2012 as mobilization fee but the project was abandoned.
An agency official said: “We are already working out legal plans to vacate the perpetual injunction obtained by the ex-Governor Odili to restrain the commission from arresting and prosecuting him for fraud. He needs to account for about N100billion.
Since March 23, 2007, Odili has been benefitting from a restraining order by Justice Ibrahim Buba including a declaration that the EFCC investigations were invalid, unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void.
In May, Justice Olarenwaju Mabekoje of the Ogun State High Court sitting in Abeokuta, dismissed the no-case submission of former Governor Gbenga Daniel. The defendant was re-arraigned on Monday, April 16, 2012 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a 32-count charge bordering on misappropriation of funds to the tune of over N200 million, criminal breach of trust and abuse of office.
Daniel has 18 counts on which he is facing trial having been cleared of suit on 14 charges.
Ex-Governor Saminu Turaki was re-arrested in 2017 for failing to present himself for trial since 2011 on a 36-count charge of corruption before the Federal High Court, Dutse. He has since been on trial over alleged N36billion fraud.
The EFCC on July 8, 2015, arraigned Ohakim who was Imo State Governor between 2007 and 2011, on three counts of money laundering.
The prosecution accused Ohakim of purchasing a property at 60, Kwame Nkrumah Street, Plot No 1098, Cadastral ZoneA04, Asokoro District, Abuja with cash payment of $2.29m which was said to be dollar equivalent of N270m in November 2008.
The offence is said to be contrary to section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004 and punishable under Section 15(1) (d) ý of the same law.
On June 23, 2016, a Federal High Court Abuja said Ohakim has a case to answer. He has since been on trial.
Suswam was re-arraigned together with his former Commissioner for Finance, Omadachi Oklobi, in September on N3.1 billion money laundering charges. Suswam, who is the Senator representing Benue North East, and his co-defendant, pleaded not guilty.
They were initially put on trial in November 2015 before Justice Ahmed Mohammed who they accused of unethical practices based on a report published by Saharareporters. The case was re-assigned to another judge. He pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against him, thereby setting the stage for his trial.
In May 2018, the EFCC re-arraigned a former governor of Oyo State, Adebayo Alao-Akala, and two others in an Oyo State High Court sitting in Ibadan over alleged N11.5bn fraud. The other defendants are a former Oyo State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Senator Hosea Agboola; and an Ibadan-based businessman, Femi Babalola. The case is still on.
A former Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido was in October 2018 re-arraigned a on a 43-count amended charge bordering on abuse of office and money laundering before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja. He was arraigned together with two of his sons – Aminu Lamido and Mustapha Lamido; Aminu Wada Abubakar, Bamaina Holdings Ltd and Speeds International Ltd for allegedly defrauding the state to the tune of N1.35 billion.”