ECONOMIC and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) officials have revealed why they arrested former Anambra State governor Willie Obiano just hours after he left office saying he had been on a watch list for a while but was protected by the immunity clause.
Yesterday, Governor Obiano handed over the reins of power to former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor Professor Charles Soludo in the Anambra State capital Akwa. Shortly after the handover, Governor Obiano flew to Lagos and was arrested by EFCC operatives at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport.
Apparently, Governor Obiano was on his way to Houston, Texas in the US when he was apprehended. After being arrested with the assistance of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Governor Obiano has been flown to Abuja, where he is being interrogated.
Specifically, Governor Obiano is accused of pocketing allocations meant for local government councils in Anambra State. EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren, said it is not a secret that some state governors abuse the system by seizing control of funds and giving local government chairmen whatever amount they please.
Mr Uwujaren added: “Of course, these acquisitions were done through proxies and associates that would be revealed in due course. I can’t go into details at the moment until we conclude our investigation.”
Apparently, the EFCC had posted its agents to the Lagos and Abuja airports since Wednesday, waiting to see which of them Governor Obiano would fly out from. Governor Obiano , like most other Nigerian governors opposed the separating of state and local government accounts because it erodes their hold over local government chairmen.
Of late, the federal government has been advocating for an end to the controversial State Local Government Joint Accounts (SLGJA). At a 2019 summit in Abuja, Boss Mustapha, the secretary to the government of the federation condemned the relegation of local government areas buy state governors.
Last year, the scrapping of the SLGJA was endorsed by the senate and the House of Representatives during the 1999 constitution review. To become law, the matter now lies with the 36 state houses of assembly.
Their approval or otherwise will determine whether local government areas will have to continue to beg governors for funds to finance their responsibilities. The requirement is for two-thirds of state houses of assembly to toe the path of the National Assembly, with 24 of them voting in favour of the amendment.