An investigation has uncovered that there are discreet investigations into as many as 12 governors by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) for massive fraud and misappropriation of funds in their states.
While the EFCC is investigating eight governors, the ICPC is investigating four. The investigations were commenced after the anti-graft agencies received petitions calling their attentions to the alleged crimes. Most of the petitions arrived after the governors had celebrated a year in office.
A senior official at the EFCC, who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that the petitions against each governor were so massive that they could not be ignored. He added that even though the governors were under the protection of immunity right now, the commission would go ahead with the investigations.
According to the source, the governors were not oblivious to the petitions against them, but they are unaware that investigations into the petitions had commenced.
He said, “We won’t wait until they finish their tenure before we start our work. Moreover, we are not talking about one or two petitions against the governors, the petitions are in huge numbers and we have a duty to act. Of course, not all the allegations in the petition will be true but we have to find out first.
“Once they finish their tenure, we will be sending out invitations and making arrests. We have a minimum of two years to finish our investigations on them. When they finish ruling, we will be ready.”
He however refused to divulge the names of the governors, because he feared that it would scuttle the investigations because of the political pressure the governors would bring to bear on the agency.
He however identified Governors Rochas Okorocha and Emmanuel Uduaghan of Imo and Delta States respectively as being on the list.
“Both of them are aware of the investigations but others are not. If we give you their names, they will start intense lobbying and manoeuvrings which won’t aid our investigations,” the source added.
Last year, the sacked chairmen of 27 local governments in Imo State had petitioned the EFCC that Okorocha had misappropriated funds from a N13.5bn bond raised by his predecessor, Ikedi Ohakim. The Association of Local Governments of Nigeria also alleged that the Joints Accounts Committee in the state had not functioned since June 2011, and that about N80bn of statutory allocations to local governments had been squandered by Okorocha.
The EFCC had visited the state in October on the strength of the ALGON petition and others and commenced probes into the operations of the state joint account with the local governments as well as the financial records of the state under former Governor Ohakim.
The state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chinedu Offor, however disputed these claims, saying, “The investigation of the state finances is a welcome development because the EFCC is finally making efforts to investigate and hopefully recover billions of Naira spent on phantom Internet-based projects.
“Okorocha was the first sitting governor to have called on the EFCC to set up a unit in every governor’s office to pre-empt and prevent corruption rather than launching investigations after the funds go missing. He runs the most transparent administration in the country and has nothing to hide.”
As for Uduaghan, it is gathered that he is under investigation for the “suspicious award of the Asaba airport contract and other projects.”
“The petitions against the Delta State governor and some of his officials queried the way they have been awarding contracts and questionable projects. We have gone to the state and invited some of the officials. They have told us what they know but we are not satisfied so we will keep at it,” the source added.
The Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr Wilson Uwajuren confirmed the petitions against governors, saying, “We have petitions against some of the sitting governors and we are making some enquiries about the petitions. I cannot tell you the governors being investigated even though the public is aware of some. Yes, the governors enjoy immunity but it won’t deter us.”
Similarly, ICPC spokesman, Mr. Folu Olamiti, confirmed that the agency was probing four governors.
He said, “I can’t give you their names and I can’t tell you how far we have gone but we are investigating four governors. The governors enjoy immunity but the people they use to pilfer public funds don’t. We are interrogating their men and when we are done, we will charge them to court.”