EFCC Declares Former Edo Governor Wanted Over N25B Fraud

Source: THEWILL. - thewillnigeria.com

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 29, (THEWILL) – Previously convicted former governor of Edo State, Chief Lucky Igbinedion has been declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) following fresh discoveries that he fraudulently diverted Edo State Government’s Afribank shares valued at $6.2 million (N961m) and government’s Access Bank Plc shares valued at $775, 000 (N120m) amongst others for his personal use.

THEWILL gathered that the anti-graft commission opened fresh investigations into the activities of the former governor after it received a petition from an indigene of the state.

“The new investigations involve a whopping N25 billion naira and Chief Lucky Igbinedion has refused to honour several invitations since December to answer to the charges,” a source at the anti-graft agency told THEWILL today.

He is also accused of fraudulently diverting more that N300 million naira of Edo State Government funds which he allegedly used to purchase a Sheraton Hotel in GRA Benin City.

Our source, who pled anonymity, said operatives have been mandated to seek and detain the former governor, who is believed to have gone underground to evade arrest.

Igbinedion is known to frequently shuttle between South Africa, Dubai, London and the United States.

The commission is expected to charge Igbinedion on Monday, January 31, 2010 and would ask INTERPOL to issue a red notice for his arrest worldwide if he fails to voluntarily surrender, the source said.

EFCC spokesman, Mr. Femi Babafemi confirmed that the agency had opened new investigations on Igbinedion and that the charges were different from the ones he pled guilty to in a Federal High Court in Enugu State in 2008, where he was fined a ridiculous N3.5 million naira on a one-count charge after an initial 191 count charge of fraud, theft, embezzlement and money laundering was amended.

The former governor was said to have gotten the lenient punishment following the backing he received from the disgraced former Attorney General and Minister of Justice Michael Andoakaa and the Yar’Adua government.

The EFCC however rejected the sentence and filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal but the matter has not witnessed any reasonable progress since 2008.

Lucky Igbinedion was unarguably one of Nigeria’s most corrupt governors with a very poor record of service delivery while he occupied the Edo State Government House for 8 years (1999-2007).

He allegedly acquired mansions in posh neighbourhoods in South Africa, Dubai, London, United States, Abuja and Benin City with funds meant for the development of his state.

The source said the commission would move for a Mareva injunction to freeze all the assets and funds traced to the politician while it tries to bring him to justice.