By Lanre Odukoya
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) late Thursday arrested Mr. Chibuike Achigbu, a man who claimed the $15 million allegedly paid by former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, to the EFCC belonged to him.
EFCC’s spokesperson, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed that Achigbu was picked up in Lagos and taken to Abuja for interrogation but added that he had been granted an “administrative bail”. But THISDAY learnt that Achigbu was still in the commission’s custody as he had yet to fulfill some conditions for his release.
Achigbu’s arrest is believed to have been given impetus by the ruling of a Chief Magistrate Court in Abuja directing the Inspector-General of Police to launch a criminal probe against Senator Andy Uba and Chibuike Achigbu over the allegations.
The court’s order was sequel to a Direct Criminal Complaint which had been filed by lawyer Mr Festus Keyamo against both Achigbu and Andy Uba. Keyamo had accused them of abetting the act of bribery.
His arrest came despite the fact he had filed an application at the Federal High Court in Abuja to discontinue the suit seeking to legitimize his claim. In a notice of discontinuance filed by his lawyer, Chief Adeniyi Akintola, SAN, Achigbu did not state any reason for discontinuing the case.
The notice had simply read: “The Intervener/Applicant hereby discontinues this suit against all the Respondents therein.”
Achigbu said he had given the money to Dr. Andy Uba, a former aide to then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, for the purpose of financing the Peoples Democratic Party during the 2007 general elections.
In an affidavit he had filed in support of the application, he said: “Andy Uba was a Special Assistant in the Presidency who offered to take custody of the fund with a view to inviting EFCC to carry out the audit and certification before being donated to the PDP.”
Achigbu said that after he had delivered the money to Uba, he heard rumours about an attempt by Ibori to bribe the chairman of the EFCC.
But Uba has since denied paying out any money to the EFCC.
He explained that due to the political ambition of Uba to become the governor of Anambra State, he lost contact with him and was not able to reach him to ask for an update regarding the fund.
He said: “That it was not until several months after Uba’s election was voided at the Supreme Court that he succeeded in making contact with him.
“That Uba, in a telephone conversation he had with him sometimes in the early part of the year 2008, confirmed that, as agreed, he did invite the EFCC to take custody of the purported unclaimed fund and revert on their investigations about its suitability for the purpose that the fund was intended.”