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TINUBU: EFCC PROBE POLITICAL BLACKMAIL

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Former Lagos State Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu yesterday described the statement credited to the  Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that he was being investigated as a political blackmail and challenged the commission to commence his prosecution and stop hiding under the cloak of perennial investigation if it has proven cases against him.

Tinubu said the repeated EFCC's claim of investigation of him without attempts to prosecute him was affecting his reputation, his family and his business prospects.

He said the failure of EFCC to prosecute him despite incessant investigation was provocative, explaining that he had neither obstructed his investigation nor stopped the commission from bringing him to book.

The former governor who expressed his feelings at a news conference with journalists in his Ikoyi home was reacting to reports credited to EFCC Chairman Farida Waziri that the commission had a case file on Tinubu and was still investigating him.

EFCC specifically mentioned Tinubu's name as one of the ex-governors under probe.

But Tinubu, who described the move as a political blackmail and a mere reaction to his recent political activism, which he said was manifested in his pursuit of justice in the recent governorship rerun in Ekiti State, insisted that his right to liberty was being infringed upon.

Tinubu, one of the leaders of the Action Congress (AC), an opposition political party in Nigeria, had,  since leaving office in 2007, been playing a key role in South West politics. He is said to be a key supporter and financier of  AC gubernatorial candidates in some of the states in the zone particularly Ekiti and Osun where elections of the candidates of the ruling parties are being challenged.

Disclosing that his purported investigation had commenced since 2002 in an attempt to stop him from seeking re-election, Tinubu said he would not be cowed.

He said apart from his last visit to the EFCC and his files which contained the names of his lawyers, nobody had reached out to him nor asked him any question on the alleged corruption allegations.

He, however, said he would not be intimidated; nor succumb to any political blackmail.

Tinubu said: 'I'm not interested in what they are saying, but you cannot perpetually hang the hammer of investigation over my head. It's not fair. It all started from (Nuhu) Ribadu era, from the year 2002 when they attempted to stop me from re-contesting for a second term.

'They didn't succeed. Then, in the following years, they have been talking of Bola Tinubu being under investigation. Each time I aggressively pursue a goal that is anti-establishment position, you find an act of investigation by EFCC or the authority hanging over my head. That continued from 2002 up to year 2007.

'They used immunity excuse and made all sorts of allegations which I challenged. Ribadu's cliché to the media is international dimension. What is international dimension was not stated there. I went to EFCC. There was no immunity any longer. I provided answers to the questions. What is very annoying is that if they have evidence to prosecute me, this is an era of rule of law, just go to court and prosecute me. Don't hang the hammer of investigation perpetually on my head. If you have concrete facts, let's go to court. Let me move on with my life.

'I have families. I have friends. I have business associates and my right to personal liberty is guaranteed under the constitution. As a result of this blackmail method of one being investigated, my family, my children, a lot of people have been calling me since yesterday. I have never done anything to stop them from investigating me. I have never disturbed their investigation.

'We've seen several cases of even political murders where they said there was no need for further investigation, so many of those cases. Now, how long will you take and when will I be able to have my right back? Because two years after I left office, if you have not come up with concrete evidence that will let you prosecute me, please, keep quiet and let me move on with my life.

'This idea of announcing Bola Tinubu is under investigation; Tinubu is under investigation, is political blackmail as far as I am concerned. And I hope that Mrs. Waziri will not step on a wrong direction. I'm not going to be intimidated. It's all about activism and even support that will bring about free and fair election; that will bring about justice in Ekiti and any part of the country. No matter what happens, I will not be intimidated.'