From Tunde Sanni in Ibadan and Sheriff Balogun in Abeokuta
Fmr Ogun Gov Gbenga Daniel in EFCC
In a move that surprised Nigerians, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday arrested three former governors: Chiefs Gbenga Daniel (Ogun); Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo); and Alhaji Aliu Akwe Doma (Nasarawa), as the agency intensifies its anti-graft war in the country.
Daniel, according to a source at the EFCC, is being held over an alleged misapplication of N58 billion while in office between May 2003 and May 29, 2011.
THISDAY learnt that he was picked up by operatives of the agency in Lagos and kept briefly at the Ikoyi office of the EFCC before he was flown to Abuja yesterday afternoon.
The source further said Daniel’s former colleague, Alao-Akala, was picked up by the anti-graft agency from his Ibadan home early yesterday morning as he was preparing to leave for the funeral ceremony of a former governor of the state, Chief Kolapo Ishola.
He was taken to Lagos and flown to Abuja. He is being held for allegedly misappropriating N25 billion while in office as governor up till May 29, last year.
In the same vein, Doma was arrested at Lafia, capital of Nasarawa State, by the EFCC operatives and driven to the Abuja offices of the agency. He, according to the source, was picked up over an allegation that he misappropriated N18 billion while in office.
The source said: “The three former governors are in custody in Abuja. They have been given their rooms and cooling off. Interrogation starts this evening (yesterday) and continues tomorrow (today).
“Daniel was flown in from Lagos. He’s just getting into our office as we speak (as at 7.20pm yesterday) and being shown his room. Alao-Akala too was brought in from Lagos, while Doma was brought in a car from Lafia. They’ll sleep here and enjoy themselves,” he said.
But a report from Abeokuta, Ogun State, showed that Daniel was actually arrested at his residence in Sagamu area of the state following petitions written against him alleging financial misconduct while in office.
THISDAY gathered that on arrival at his Aseludero Quarters in Sagamu shortly after attending the Yoruba Summit at Ikenne, Ogun State, the former governor was whisked away by the operatives, who were waiting for him and took him to the commission's office for further interrogation.
However in the state capital, the former governor's arrest has become a topic of discussion as groups celebrated the EFCC’s action while some were in sober mood.
But the former governor’s media aide, Mr. Gbenro Adebanjo, said his boss was merely invited, and not arrested by the EFCC.
According to Adebanjo,: “Today, (yesterday) agents of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) visited the Sagamu home of Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former governor of Ogun State. When they got there, Otunba Daniel was at the pan-Yoruba summit in Ikenne.
“On learning of their presence in Sagamu, Otunba Daniel left Ikenne to join them. After which he was taken away by the agents ostensibly to continue investigation into the petitions it had received against the former governor.”
Adebanjo also said it was important to state that prior to the commission's visit, Daniel had not been invited to answer any questions, adding that nothing incriminating had been found or brought to his notice by officials of the EFCC prior to their visit to his house yesterday.
He added that "as a law abiding citizen, Otunba Daniel expects the agency to follow the due process in the current situation.”
He therefore boasted that Daniel remained confident that he would be vindicated as the petitions written against him, which might have formed the basis of his invitation by the EFCC, were politically motivated.
He said: “We believe that at the end of the day the truth will prevail," adding that “indeed when speculation became rife that he may be invited for questioning, a scheduled trip abroad by the former governor was put on hold in order for him to be available to answer the summons of the EFCC.”
Reacting to the news of Alao-Akala’s arrest, the Special Adviser to Oyo State Governor on Media, Dr. Festus Adedayo, said inasmuch as the government does not want to gloat over the arrest, its only interest is that the law takes its course.
“Though the arrest is a vindication of our earlier allegation of the predatory clean-up of the state’s patrimony for four years by the Alao-Akala government, the present government does not want to gloat over the fate of the former governor.
We only enjoin both the EFCC and the judiciary to allow justice to be done,” the statement said.
However, in his reaction, former Secretary of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Chairman of Ibadan North-west Local Government Area of the state, Wasiu Olatunbosun, described Alao-Akala’s arrest as timely and a welcome development.
“We have finally been vindicated that Aloa-Akala does not deserve a place in a sane society. The EFCC must pursue this case to a logical conclusion so as not to see a stage managed arrest to the criticism of the public on the Federal Government’s case against Bola Tinubu.
“We have overwhelming evidence against him and corrupt leaders must not go unpunished,” Olatunbosun said.