…as Ibori follows Tinubu, Osinbajo on Twitter
By Ayo Fadimu
Investigations have revealed that Nigeria may lose over N3.2 trillion to treasury looters with the current spate of defections by former political office holders from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). This shows that most of the defectors are currently facing corruption charges in different courts across the country and therefore using the opportunity to prevent prosecution of members of the ruling national party.
Investigation by Nigerian NewsDirect showed that many of the politicians who are leaving PDP are not doing so because of the internal wrangling in the former ruling party but a desperate move to face prosecution.
Some of the erstwhile PDP top echelons now in APC include former Governor of Rivers State. Rotimi Amaechi, former governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, ex-governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Silva, former governor of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye, former governor of Oyo State, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala and former governor of Kano State,Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso among others.
Sylva, who governed Bayelsa between 2007 and 2011 was accused of stealing N19.2billion from the treasury of the state. However, he was the standard bearer of APC in the last governorship election in the state where he lost to the incumbent, Governor Seriake Dickson in an election which was largely seen as bloody.
The former governor was docked by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside his co-accused in July 2014 for allegedly using three companies to siphon funds from the Bayelsa state treasury between 2009 and 2012.
The companies are Marlin Maritime Limited, Eat Catering Services Limited, and Haloween-Blue Construction and Logistics Limited.
Similarly, Kalu, who recently defected to APC and being touted as one of the possible replacement for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in case President Muhammadu Buhari decides to have a Vice President from South East was alleged to have perpetrated fraud to the tune of N5.6billion while in office between 1999 to 2007 in Abia State.
For the past eight years, Kalu through various interlocutory applications stalled moves by the prosecution to open its case against him. The case has moved from one court to another, up to Supreme court.
In the case of Dariye, who recently cross-carpeted on the floor of the Senate was accused of stealing, and misappropriation of public funds totalling over N7.4 billion while he was governor of Plateau State between 1999 and 2007.
Dariye had already lost an appeal at the Appeal Court where he filed a suit challenging the jurisdiction of the FCT High Court, and so the coast is now clear for him to proceed with the trial but counsel to Dariye, Barrister Chris Umar told the court that Dariye had filed another application at the Supreme Court challenging the ruling of the Appeal Court.
Also, the immediate past governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwanso, is under the search of EFCC for alleged diversion of Kano State local government funds into his presidential campaign. The source hinted that Kwankwaso allegedly used his influence as governor to direct each of the 44 councils in the state to contribute the sum of N70 million. Through this, he raised over N3 billion for his failed presidential project.
The money was sourced from the State’s Local Government Joint Account, an action that irked some state government officials, who petitioned the EFCC after Kwankwaso left office in 2015.
The petitioners were said to have also supplied vital documents on the alleged fund diversion to the EFCC, which prompted the commission to begin investigation. The investigation began in 2015 and has seen Mr. Rabiu Suleiman Bichi, former Secretary to the State Government, and Mr.Danjuma Mahmud, former Accountant-General visit the commission regularly.
In the case of Amaechi, he is being accused of stealing three trillion naira from the coffers of the Rivers state.
Amaechi, currently, the minister of Transport is yet to be invited by any of the anti-graft agencies for interrogation but Amaechi had consistently denied the allegation, insisting that Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike is witch-hunting him and described the allegation against him as political.
On his part, Alao-Akala is facing allegation of embezzling N11.5 billion from Oyo State government’s purse, his case is currently in court.
A former governor of Delta state, James Ibori who returned last Saturday has also been linked with defection to APC.
Ibori was released from UK prison after serving his jail term in the country. He was given heroic welcome when he returned to the state he was alleged to have stolen $250 million (N125bn).
As many people are still speculating on his next political move, Ibori opened a new twitter account on Sunday. A check on his twitter account by Nigerian NewsDirect shows that he is currently following nine people. They are President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President YemiOsinbajo, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, National leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and official twitter handles of APC and the Presidency. All people are APC leaders.
Ibori also follows PDP official twitter handle and an online medium. He is currently being followed by 847 people as at press time.
Efforts to get the reaction of EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren was abortive as his two lines were switched off.