EFCC May Quiz Sylva, Others This Week

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Former Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Timpre Sylva
By Olawale Olaleye
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is preparing to invite the immediate past governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Timpre Sylva and some of his colleagues recently sacked from office by the Supreme Court to respond to petitions accusing them of misdemeanours while in office.
A source at EFCC said the move had become imperative in the light of the Supreme Court ruling which automatically opened up some of them for investigation since they are no more covered by immunity provided by the constitution.
According to the source, a legion of petitions regularly flood the commission with respect to the activities of some of the governors but it was handicapped because of the immunity clause which protected them from both arrest and prosecution while still in office.
Although, the source declined to mention names of those who would be invited this week for questioning, he said what is certain is that “invitations will be extended to some of them who already have petitions with the commission to come and make statements and then, everything else will follow.”
THISDAY had reported last year that Sylva was billed to visit the EFCC whenever he left office, either by invitation or arrest because of the petitions against him by different complainants in the state.
Sylva, who could not secure a re-election ticket because of sundry allegations against him, was accused, among others, by local government chairmen and officials of the state government of financial impropriety.
EFCC’s former spokesperson, Mr. Femi Babafemi, had at the time confirmed that the commission had continued to receive petitions from the state, including members of the government, community groups and the civil society. He said no fewer than 15 petitions had been submitted to the commission against Sylva.
Babafemi, who did not give details of the petitions, stated that the commission had begun to work on them, adding that the issues involved required utmost caution because of the sensitivity of the allegations against the governor at the time.
THISDAY gathered that the lead petition had come from chairmen of local governments in the state who accused Sylva of gross abuse and misappropriation of the state/local government joint accounts.
The council chairmen had alleged in their petition that the governor had consistently diverted funds meant for the council to other uses, only to give them paltry sums as allocation to run the local governments in the state.
Another petition from a group which called itself Concerned Officials of the State Government had also claimed in its petition that the governor had over time, recklessly awarded contracts and diverted funds accruing to the tune of N33 billion.
EFCC had concluded three major investigations on Sylva over the alleged award of certain contracts, of which the source confirmed Saturday the on-going prosecution of three officials of the state government has Sylva as the main target. The case, the source revealed, was opened in 2010.
According to him, the case which involved the Commissioner for Finance, Accountant General of the state and Director of Finance, involved money laundering totalling N2.5 billion.
However, since Sylva and four other governors—Ibrahim Idris (Kogi), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto) and Liyel Imoke (Cross River) — were sacked last Friday by a Supreme Court judgment, a source at the commission said the process for prosecution of those who have a case to answer would commence in earnest.

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