© 2018 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Dariye’s confinement, and other senators that could join him in jail
“BE merciful, you are a Christian. Your name is Jacob.” These were the words with which Joshua Dariye, a serving member of the Nigeria Senate, begged Rotimi Jacobs, counsel to the EFCC, for mercy, just before the former governor was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment a week ago.
On the day he was convicted, Dariye, former Governor of Plateau State, came to the court premises in his official vehicle as a senator, but he left in a prison vehicle to Kuje prison, where he would spend the next 14 years.
Like Dariye, there are many other serving members of the senate who are either being prosecuted by the EFCC or are under investigation, and whose fates seem to be hanging in the balance. Here are a few:
Nwaboshi is the current senator representing Delta-North Senatorial District, and a known loyalist of James Ibori, former Governor of Delta State, who himself just returned to Nigeria after serving a five-year jail sentence in the United Kingdom having been found guilty of money laundering.
Charged with two counts of conspiracy and money laundering before the Federal High Court Lagos, Nwaboshi has already spent two days in prison, while he waited for the determination of his bail application.
The EFCC said Nwaboshi, who is also Chairman of the Senate committee on Niger Delta Affairs, had awarded contracts worth over N6 billion to 15 companies belonging to him and his cronies in 2016.
The contracts for the procurement of hundreds of thousands plastic chairs and tables for schools in the nine oil producing states in Nigeria.
He was arrested in April this year after evading arrest several times, and the trial is ongoing. So far, the EFCC has called two witnesses out the of the six witnesses it intends to call to testify against Nwaboshi.
Danjuma Goje, former Governor of Gombe State and current senator representing Gombe Central Senatorial District, is undergoing trial at the Federal High Court, Gombe, for allegedly defrauding the state to the tune of N5 billion.
Goje, who is doing a second-term in the senate, is also the chairman of the North East caucus of the senate, as well as chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
He was accused of obtaining a loan of N5 billion from Access Bank with a forged document, purporting that the Gombe State House of Assembly approved the loan.
According to the EFCC, Goje forged the signature of Shehu Atiku, Clerk of the Gombe State House of Assembly, to facilitate the loan which he claimed was for infrastructural projects, but which was diverted and laundered.
Abdulaziz Nyako is the son of Murtala Nyako, former Governor of Adamawa State. Both men are currently facing a 37-count corruption charge before the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The EFCC accused both Nyakos, alongside two others, of siphoning over N15 billion from the Adamawa State treasury, using five proxy companies.
Though the younger Nyako seem to have won the first round of battle against the EFCC, having secured a court ruling ordering the anti-graft agency to pay him N12.5 million in damages for illegal detention, the bigger case continues in court, albeit after some delay following the death of the trial judge, Justice Evoh Chukwu.
A new judge, Okon Abang, has been assigned to continue with the trial.
Bassey Akpan was still fighting for his ‘life’ in the Senate when he was arrested by the EFCC for allegedly receiving vehicles worth over N300 million from Jide Omokore, an oil dealer who is also facing corruption charges.
Also, the EFCC wanted Akpan to account for his conducts when he served as Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Finance during the governorship of Godswill Akpabio.
Akpan denied any wrongdoing, insisting that the vehicles from Omokore were personal gifts and also a show of support to his governorship ambition. He has since been released on bail.
In February this year, a Federal High Court in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom State, removed Akpan from the Senate, ruling that another PDP candidate, Bassey Etim, was the authentic candidate of the Party in the 2015 election, and therefore should be sworn in as Akpan’s replacement.
But Bukola Saraki, Senate President, has continued to defy court orders by refusing to swear-in Etim, and Akpan has remained as a senator despite the fact that an application for stay of execution which he filed with regards to his removal, has been struck out.
The former Minister of Aviation is currently under investigation by the EFCC over her alleged involvement in a N9.4 billion contract for supply of security equipment to 22 airports across the nation.
She is also being questioned for allegedly failing to carry out specific projects across many airports in the country, despite the allocation of funds for these projects.
A private company, Psybernetix Limited, had petitioned the EFCC, alleging that Oduah had diverted contracts initially awarded to it, to some other companies that had zero competence.
“She (Oduah) also wanted us to issue post-dated cheques totaling several billions of Naira in favor of this her preferred company (I-Sec Ltd, as well as Zuren Ltd), front companies belonging to her friend and business partner, Walter Wagbotsama,” Psybernetix alleged.
“This company had zero security, program management, project management, or global project execution experience, so, on what basis would a company of our stature and reputation engage them as our technical partners?”
The case is still under investigation, and it is only a question of when, not if, Oduah would be prosecuted.
The EFCC is not letting up on the allegation of fraud worth N5.4 billion, carried out by David Mark, during his tenure as Senate President from 2007 to 2015, as well as for monies he allegedly received from Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser.
So far, no charges have been filed, and Mark has insisted that he is innocent of the charges against him, describing the EFCC’s investigation as “chasing shadows”.
The former Akwa Ibom State Governor was first arrested by the EFCC in October 2015, following a petition by one Leo Ekpenyong, who alleged that Akpabio looted the state’s treasury during his time as governor.
Again, in September 2017, the EFCC began another round of investigation into allegations that Akpabio, as state governor, gifted a commercial bank the sum of N1.4 billion, for reasons that were best known to him.
However, investigations into Akpabio’s “fraudulent” activities during his time as governor has progressed sluggishly. According to the EFCC, the reason is because Akpabio still enjoys the loyalty of Emmanuel Udom, the current Akwa Ibom State Governor, and as such, officials of the state government are refusing to cooperate with the anti-corruption agency.
In fact, the Akwa Ibom government filed a suit in court seeking for an injunction to bar the EFCC from investigating its affairs.
Ekweremadu proved that he is a shrewd politician when he retained his position as Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, despite being a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party. However, his office may not save him if the allegations against him by the federal government are proven in court.
The Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, headed by Okoi Obono-Obla, has filed a suit in court seeking the feature of 22 luxury apartments, said to belong to Ekweremadu, but which he did not include in his assets declaration form.
Nine of the targeted properties are said to be in Abuja, two in London, UK, eight in Dubai, UAE and three in Florida, US.
Ekweremadu denied any wrongdoing and the case is still before the federal high court, Abuja.
Barely a month after Ekweremadu was dragged to court for alleged false declaration of assets, the Deputy Senate President raised alarm that the EFCC was planning to plant guns and cash in his Abuja residence in order to destroy his political career.
But the EFCC described the claim as “false alarm” from a guilty conscience.
“The Commission’s candid advice to Ekweremadu is to sleep easy if he is not involved in the looting spree that seems to be the pastime of many Nigerians in the corridors of power,” the EFCC reply to Ekweremadu read.
Only time will tell whether Ekweremadu’s alarm was triggered by guilty conscience or was based on credible info.