Adelani Adepegba and Chidiebube Okeoma
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday arrested a former governor of Imo State and Senator representing the Imo West Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Senator Rochas Okorocha.
He was picked up in Abuja around 4pm and taken to the EFCC headquarters for alleged money laundering.
The EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed Okorocha’s arrest but said he did not know if he would spend the night in custody.
“He was still at our office when I left, so I don’t know if he would spend the night in custody or whether he would be released on bail,” he said on the telephone.
The anti-graft commission had confiscated some property from Okorocha and his associates which were allegedly illegally acquired while he was the Imo State governor.
Last year, the Head of the EFCC zonal office in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Usman Imam, said N7.9bn belonging to Imo was seized from the former governor.
Imam, who has been in charge of the ongoing probe of the former governor, said the commission returned over N5.7bn to the state government to pay salaries and pensions of workers.
He had said, “Within the period, the commission succeeded in freezing about N7.9bn in different accounts. The money released to Imo State government was from the N7.9bn recovered from Okorocha. The money was released in batches.
“N2.7bn was released in March (2020) for salaries. In the PDP government of Emeka Ihedioha, excess of N2.5bn upon series of writings and our insistence of monitoring it, was released to pay salaries and pensions because they were monies recovered from the state so it has to go back to the state.
“Then the government of Emeka left and this government came, we had a remnant of the money in excess of N2bn. We were able to release N514mjust last month because excess of about N1.8bn is encumbered with a court process. Contractors went to court and targeted the funds. The process is lingering. They still have excess of N1.8bn that is not released”.
Okorocha honoured EFCC invitation –Aide
Meanwhile, Okorocha, on Tuesday said that he was not arrested by the EFCC.
Okorocha in a statement by his spokesperson, Sam Onwuemeodo, saidd disclosed that Okorocha only honoured an invitation by the anti- graft agency.
The statement disclosed that the agency was investigating Okorocha’s activities as an ex-governor of the state following a petition written by a farmer governor of the state, Emeka Ihedioha.
The statement reads partly, “The truth is that, Okorocha left as the governor of Imo State on May 28, 2019. And shortly after, the Imo State Government wrote petitions against him.”
“The EFCC investigated the petitions and has been in various courts of the land with Okorocha, to that effect.
“And if the EFCC has decided to invite Okorocha for clarifications on the matters already in court, especially with a new chairman at the helm of affairs at the commission, there is nothing wrong with that.
“At the end of the day, we would know whether the commission will be withdrawing the cases in courts, or would continue with the cases.
“But to us, the commission is doing its job and should be given the needed cooperation. And Okorocha being a law-abiding citizen, would always cooperate with the commission over the matters in courts.”