The anti-graft agencies in the country, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, must have their hands full as no fewer than 12 governors are being investigated for massive fraud and misappropriation of public funds in their states.
While eight governors are under the searchlight of the EFCC, the ICPC is beaming its light on four. The investigations which are being discreetly conducted, commenced following the receipt of several weighty petitions against the state executives.
It was gathered that most of the petitions were received after the said governors had celebrated their first year in office. Disclosing the information, a senior official of one of the agencies said despite the immunity enjoyed by governors, the probes would continue.
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.”
Among those being investigated are Governors Rochas Okorocha of Imo State; and Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State.
“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.
While Okorocha is under the EFCC’s radar following a petition by the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) in the state over misappropriation of N80bn, Uduaghan was being investigated for the “suspicious award of Asaba International Airport contracts and other projects.”
However, the Imo state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chinedu Offor, welcomed the development as Rochas Okorocha had nothing to hide. “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” he said.
“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.”
The Head, Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, while confirming the petitions against the governors said, “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.”
In the same vein, 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.”