The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has begun mass investigations of governors and their deputies, many of whom will leave office and lose constitutional immunity from prosecution in a few days’ time, PREMIUM TIMES report.

A memo obtained by this medium shows the anti-corruption agency is beaming its searchlight on at least 28 governors and their deputies. Nigeria has 36 states governed with each governed by a governor and a deputy governor.

At least 18 of the governors with their deputies targeted for investigations by EFCC are preparing to leave office when they will complete their second terms in office on 29 May.

One is leaving office on the same date after completing a term, while 10 others, who recently won their second term elections, are expected to remain in office for the next four years.

Broad range investigation

In what signals a broad range investigation of the public officers, EFCC has requested their assets declaration forms from the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), a recent official communication between the two agencies obtained by PREMIUM TIMES shows.

Details of the cases EFCC has against the officials are not immediately clear, but the commission said in its letter addressed to the chairperson of CCB, Mohammed Isah, that it needs the asset declaration documents to facilitate an ongoing investigation involving them.

“This commission is investigating a case in which persons listed in the attached schedule. featured,” read the EFCC’s letter dated 11 April and signed by an official on behalf of the EFCC’s chair, Abduralsheed Bawa.

The letter signed by Umma Sulaiman of the Proceeds of Crime Management Department of the EFCC, contains an annexure of a list of governors with their deputies who either took office in 2015 or 2019.

It requested the asset declaration forms submitted at the beginning and the end of current tenure of the governors and their deputies.

“In order to facilitate the investigation, you are kindly requested to furnish the commission with the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the Asset Declaration Forms filled by each of the subject for period stated against their respective names.

“Also, you are to forward the Bureau’s examination/verification report of the declared asset,” the letter read, citing section 38(1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004, as the basis for the request.

But it could not be confirmed if the CCB has responded to EFCC’s letter, although the acknowledgement copy of the letter viewed by this newspaper shows the bureau received it on 11 April. CCB chair, Mr Isah did not answer our reporter’s calls and text message enquiry on Tuesday.

But CCB may not have received all of the forms including the end of tenure declarations of the governors and their deputies requested by the EFCC. Some of them may not submit their latest assets form until after they either leave office or begin another tenure on 29 May.

Assets declarations forms, corruption investigations

The assets declaration documents of public officers are treasured lead for investigators.

The Nigerian constitution, however, confers immunity from criminal prosecution on serving president, vice-president, governors, and deputy governors.

This implies that EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies can only carry out limited investigations of the officials while they are in office as, technically, they cannot be summoned for interrogation during their tenures in office.

“All governors should be investigated at the end of their tenures,” said Auwal Rafsanjani, the Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), in an endorsement of the step being taken by the EFCC. “We hope the EFCC has gathered enough tangible evidences against these governors so that they can do a thorough investigation in cases of diversion, misappropriation of public funds, or outright stealing.”

“It is important the EFCC pursue these investigations with the view to bring sanity in governance,” Mr Rafsanjani said. “We cannot continue to experiment with monumental tragedies of public officials using their position to loot the little resources available to states. We must also make public officials understand that there is a law and when they violate the laws they must face the consequences,” he added.

Many governors control the resources of their states with minimal or non-existent checks and balances, contributing to making Nigeria one of the poorly rated in terms of corruption, according to an annual survey by watchdog Transparency International.

With the amount of resources they deploy to funding elections and extravagant lifestyles, many of the governors often come under intense suspicion of corruption.

A number of former governors who completed their tenures in the previous years are still facing investigations for alleged corruption. They include a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, and former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, both of whom are vying for Senate President of the anticipated 10th National Assembly.

In March 2022, the EFCC arrested a former Anambra State governor, Willie Obiano, shortly after he handed over to his successor, and was detained for days for interrogation over corruption allegations.

Earlier in March 2021, the EFCC similarly detained a former governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed.

They have all denied the allegations against them, while the EFCC keeps mum on the outcome of its probes.

The agency has also linked the serving governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, with ongoing investigations to some suspicious slew of assets. The governor has also denied any wrongdoing.

The governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Fintiri, was charged with corruption offences he allegedly committed during his three-month stint as acting governor of the state in 2014. He was facing trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja until he was elected governor in 2019.

At least 11 former governors are under federal investigation, mostly on suspicion of corruption.

EFCC has investigated governors even though convictions are very rare. Former governors – Joshua Dariye of Plateau State and Jolly Nyame of Taraba State – who governed their respective states between 1999 and 2007, were jailed for stealing public funds in 2018.

Mr Dariye and Mr Nyame didn’t serve half the length of their jail terms when President Muhammadu Buhari controversially granted them pardons in 2022.

Fresh allegations

Last week, the EFCC disclosed publicly that Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State, whose name appears on the anti-graft agency’s list of possible corruption suspects, is being investigated over the alleged diversion of N70 billion from the state’s treasury.

The commission alleged that the governor, who is leaving office when he will complete his single term in about a week’s time, allegedly conspired with others to siphon public funds which, by his role, he was meant to safeguard.

EFCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Osita Nwajah, said allegations against Mr Matawalle include “corruption, award of phantom contracts and diversion of over N70 billion.”

The outgoing governor, who lost his reelection in March, has denied wrongdoing and asked the anti-graft agency to probe ‘officers of the presidency’ and members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC). The commission described Mr Matawalle’s outburst as the case of a “thief” saying he must not be touched until other “thieves’’ are caught.

Mr Matawalle further alleged that EFCC chairman, Mr Bawa, demanded $2 million as a bribe from him. EFCC said it dared the governor to provide evidence to back his claim. Spokesperson for the EFCC Wilson Uwujaren said the commission will not be drawn into a mud fight with a “suspect under investigation for corruption and unconscionable pillage of the resources of his state.”

“The impunity and brazenness of the politicians are killing the country and we can’t afford to continue on this trajectory,” said Lanre Suraj, anti-corruption crusader. “We all must support the anti-corruption agencies and ensure we get justice and recovery of our stolen wealth.”

Both Mr Suraj and Mr Rafsanjani said it is desirable to have the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and Code of Conduct Bureau equally launching the same actions on all the Politically Exposed persons.

Mr Matawalle, the Zamfara governor, and his deputy, Hassan Gusau, are among the 28 governors the EFCC is investigating.

Other governors on the longlist are Rivers state governor Nyesom Wike, Abdullahi Ganduje, Abubakar Bagudu, Abubakar Bello, Samuel Ortom, Benedict Ayade, Dave Umahi, Okezie Ikpeazu, Ifeanyi Okowa, Ahmadu Fintiri, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Nasir El-Rufai, Bala Mohammed, Aminu Masari and Simon Lalong.

Read the full list of governors and their deputies below:

1. Abia State

Governor – Okezie lkpeazu

Deputy – Ude Oko Chukwu

2. Adamawa State

Governor – Ahmadu Fintiri

Deputy – Crowther Seth

3. Akwa Ibom State

Governor – Udom Emmanuel

Deputy – Moses Ekpo

4. Bauchi State

Governor – Bala Mohammed

Deputy – Baba Tela

5. Benue State

Governor – Samuel Ortom

Deputy – Benson Abounu

6. Borno State

Governor – Babagana Zulum

Deputy – Umar Kadafur

7. Cross River

Governor – Benedict Ayade

Deputy – Ivara Esu

8. Delta State

Governor – Ifeanyi Okowa

Deputy – Kingsley Otuaro

9. Ebonyi State

Governor – Dave Umahi

Deputy – Eric Igwe

10. Enugu State

Governor – Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi

Deputy – Cecilia Ezeilo

11. Gombe State

Governor – Muhammad Yahaya

Deputy – Manasseh Jatau

12. Jigawa State

Governor – Muhammad Abubakar

Deputy – Umar Namadi

13. Kaduna State

Governor – Nasir El-Rufai

Deputy – Hadiza Balarabe

14. Kano State

Governor – Abdullahi Ganduje

Deputy – Nasir Gawuna

15. Katsina State

Governor – Aminu Masari

Deputy – Mannir Yakubu

16. Kebbi State

Governor – Abubakar Bagudu

Deputy – Samaila Dabai

17. Kwara State

Governor – Abdulrahman AbdulRasag

Deputy – Kayode Alabi

18. Lagos State

Governor – Babajide Sanwo-Olu

Deputy – Femi Hamzat

19. Nasarawa State

Governor – Abdullahi Sule

Deputy – Emmanuel Akabe

20. Niger State

Governor – Abubakar Bello

Deputy – Ahmed Ketso

21. Ogun State

Governor – Dapo Abiodun

Deputy – Noimot Salako-Oyedele

22. Oyo State

Governor – Oluwaseyi Makinde

Deputy – Adebayo Lawal

23. Plateau State

Governor – Simon Lalong

Deputy – Sonni Tyoden

24. Rivers State

Governor – Nyesom Wike

Deputy – Ipalibo Banigo

25. Sokoto State

Governor – Aminu Tambuwal

Deputy – Manni Dan-Iya

26. Taraba State

Governor – Darius Ishaku

Deputy – Haruna Manu

27. Yobe State

Governor – Mai-Mala Buni

Deputy – Idi Gubana

28. Zamfara State

Governor – Bello Matawalle

Deputy – Hassan Gusau




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