By Emeka Okafor
The Anambra State Government has reacted to reports by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) placing its governor, Willie Obiano, on the anti-graft watchlist for alleged financial offences.
It berated EFCC for resorting to media trial rather than wait until Governor Obiano hands over power to his successor and incoming governor of the state, Prof. Charles Soludo, next year.
Anambra commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Don Adinuba, reacted to the development in a statement titled “‘EFFC’s Inelegant Drama over Anambra Governor’, on Thursday.
EFCC had through a letter addressed to Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service dated November 15, 2021, asked the service to place Obiano on its watchlist and arrest him whenever they see him in any of the nation’s airports.
But Adinuba said the governor of the state, Willie Obiano, is currently out of Nigeria, adding that his principal did not disguise when he used one of the international airports to travel out of the country.
The commissioner said EFCC has not served the governor any notice or invited him to answer for any corruption-related offences yet the anti-graft agency clandestinely announced that it has placed the out-going governor of the state on its watch list.
The statement read in part, “The EFCC knows full well that it is acting inelegantly in this instance, and so has tried as much as possible not to make an official public statement on the alleged placing of Chief Obiano on the watch list. It furtively gave a section of the media the news report it wrote based on ostensibly its letter to the NIS on November 15.
“Governor Obiano is out of the country currently. And he travelled through one of the country’s international airports. He did not disguise himself, but rather left the country with his identity fully disclosed at the necessary immigration point.
“The EFCC sounded more inelegant when it claimed in the sponsored press report that it received intelligence reports that the governor plans to ‘flee’ from Nigeria once he hands over power next March 17 to the newly elected Anambra State governor, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo. Chief Obiano has never left any person in doubt that he will relocate to his base in the United States once he finishes his tenure. As early as Wednesday, March 4, 2020, he announced his decision to a meeting of the Anambra State Council of Elders.”
“It is indeed strange that the EFCC is making a show that it is investigating a high public officer. Anti-corruption agencies, like intelligence services, conduct their investigations discreetly, and not on pages of newspapers. Media trial has never benefited the EFCC.
“The whole nation knows those behind all the present histrionics about Obiano. They are those who didn’t want the November 6 election to hold. They are those in high places who unsuccessfully canvassed for emergency rule in Anambra supposedly on security grounds. They are those who masterminded the Birnin Kudu High Court charade in Jigawa State over the APGA leadership and, more importantly, the authentic APGA candidate in the November gubernatorial election in Anambra State.
“They are those responsible for the sacrilege of a customary court in Abuja issuing criminal summons to Professor Soludo, a former Central Bank of Nigeria governor. These people are still fighting the gubernatorial battle on behalf of their badly defeated friends and political associates in the Anambra vote. They will fail badly, as they have done in the recent past.
“The EFCC should not allow itself to be used by politicians who are mere birds of passage. Its ongoing Anambra drama is in bad taste. It did not serve Governor Obiano any notice. Nor did it invite him to answer questions about his service record. It just went to the press. Yet, the governor is willing to answer any questions about his years in office,” the statement added.