New Telegraph - In its determination to recover all public funds allegedly used to prosecute the 2015 presidential election, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has frozen the bank accounts of some stalwarts of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). International passports of some of the PDP leaders under investigation have also been seized by the anti-graft agency.
Those whose accounts have been frozen include those of some ex-governors, former ministers and PDP leaders who were said to have shared or benefitted from the N23 billion campaign funds, distributed to states, to enhance the electoral fortunes of the party.
Each of the 36 states benefitted between N450 million and N950,000 million from the campaign funds used to prosecute the 2015 general elections. New Telegraph further gathered that the anti-graft agency is in a dilemma over the alleged involvement of about six serving governors in the campaign funds. It was learnt that the sitting governors got involved either as state chief executives then, or as gubernatorial candidates of the PDP.
The commission is, however, hamstrung as it concerns the sitting governors, owing to their constitutional immunity, which does not allow for interrogation or prosecution, as long as they remained governors.
In fact, New Telegraph was reliably informed by a highly placed source, who pleaded anonymity, that all the bank accounts of a very prominent and influential leader of the party, have been frozen ostensibly because the EFCC believes so much of the disputed cash may have been channeled through his accounts.
New Telegraph was reliably informed that the account of a former Kano State Governor and Minister of Education, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, domiciled with one of the old generation banks, has been frozen. This development may have obstructed the payment of the ex-governor’s four-year entitlements, which were to be paid into the said account by the Umar Ganduje-led administration.
According to sources, the action of the commission is already having adverse effects on those affected, as they are unable to access funds through those accounts that have since been blocked, pending conclusion of investigations.
The action of the EFCC, which is not final in itself, is to pre-empt possible closures of such accounts, which could hamper the course of ongoing investigations. Another source also hinted that more arrests and interrogations would be made in the coming days, as there are still some states that have not been visited.
This is more so that the funds under investigation were said to have been distributed to the 36 states of the federation.“I can confirm to you that the EFCC has blocked the bank accounts of our (PDP) leaders being investigated over what they said was money used for election.
“It came to some of them as a huge shock, because they got to know about it when they made efforts to either withdraw money, or conduct other transactions from their accounts. “Honestly, it was so bad that an ex-governor of a state in the North- West, who was a minister in the last dispensation, could not have his pension paid into his only existing bank account, because of the freezing.
“He may not even travel to Mecca for this year’s lesser Hajj, because his passport has also been confiscated,” he said. On the temporary freezing of all the accounts of a leader from the South, another source said: “It is so bad that one of our respected leaders has had all his existing accounts frozen.
“We are waiting to see how this whole investigation pans out, but I know that our leaders under probe, are really in some dire straits.” Meanwhile, a former governor of Enugu State, Mr. Sullivan Chime, is expected back at the Commission’s zonal office today, where investigation into his alleged involvement in the sharing of N450 million sent to the state, will continue.
Chime, who reported first on Wednesday, June 8, was said to have made a statement, where he denied any personal involvement with the disbursement of the said amount as was claimed by Mrs. Rita Chinelo Mba, secretary to the campaign office and his former Commissioner for Special Duties and Intergovernment Affairs.
The commission has, so far, quizzed the following ex-PDP governors: Chief Achike Udenwa (Imo State), Senator Liyel Imoke (Cross River State), as well as Alhaji Mamuda Aliyu Shinkafi (Zamfara State). Apart from the former state chief executives, operatives had interrogated a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Wali (Kano); a former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nurudeen Muhammad (Jigawa State); Ntufam John Okon (Cross River State PDP Chairman), and retired Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (Akwa Ibom).
Also quizzed were a former Minister of State for Finance, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda (Zamfara); an ex-Minister of Mines and Steel, Arch. Musa Muhammad Sada (Katsina), as well as a former Minister of State for Agriculture, Asabe Asmau Ahmed (Niger). A former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Chief Lucky Imasuen, as well as former Secretary to the Edo State Government (SSG), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, had been interrogated in respect of the controversial cash.