Corruption: Gov. Obiano panic over placement on EFCC watch-list, arrest imminent

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There appears to be panic at the Government House, Awka, Anambra State, after the report that Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra, has been placed on corruption watch-list by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The commission also mounts surveillance on the governor for seeming imminent arrest towards his handover of power to his successor in March 2022.

The EFCC, therefore, in a letter to the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) dated November 15, 2021, sought the collaboration of the Service to ensure that Governor Obiano is restrained from fleeing Nigeria after handing over, indicating readiness to arrest the Anambra governor at the end of his second tenure.

The EFCC, in the letter, urged the Nigeria Immigration Service to include Governor Obiano in its watch-list, requesting the Service to notify the commission whenever the Anambra State governor is departing Nigeria through  any international airport, or other entry and exit points in the country.

The placement of Governor Obiano in EFCC watch-list presupposes that the commission may have conducted investigation on the governor and could have detected alleged financial misappropriation indictments. The Commission is, therefore, waiting for the expiration of the immunity of the governor at the end of his tenure in March 2022 to apprehend him for prosecution.

Governor Obiano will be handing over to his successor, Professor Charles Soludo, on March 16, 2022.

It is not out of place to investigate governors while in office. However, a governor cannot be prosecuted since he has immunity until the end of his tenure.

In 2006, former EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, investigated that 36 governors in Nigeria. In the investigation report, the EFCC indicted 34 governors, two governors – Dr. Bukola Saraki of Kwara State, and Donald Duke of Cross River State – were given clean bill. Saraki and Duke were absolved of corruption. The commission had set out for the prosecution of the 34 indicted governors at the end of their tenures when their immunity would have been exhausted. Former Governor James Ibori of Delta became a victim in the United Kingdom (UK). Some governors in the era, who include Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State, Danjuma Goje of Gombe State, Rev. Jolly Nyame of Taraba State, Joshua Dariye of Plateau State, among others, were later prosecuted by the EFCC on various allegations some of which were derived from petitions.

Two former governors, Nyame and Dariye are presently serving prison terms after being found guilty on corruption charges.