By NBF News

BY LEKE ADESERI, South West Regional Editor
LAGOS - ECONOMIC and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has started inviting some of the governors whose immunity expired on Sunday as new helmsmen took over the administration of their states.

Also, some of them, believed to have fled the country, and who do not honour the commission's invitation will be declared wanted promptly.

Meantime, the commission has said that the immediate past governors of Oyo and Ogun states, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala and Otunba Gbenga Daniel respectively, among others, have questions to answer from petitions written against them while they were in office.

The commission's spokesman, Femi Babafemi, told Vanguard, weekend, that they were moving in on  these set of ex-governors despite the report that Gbenga Daniel might have fled the country.

Babafemi said the latest moves by the ex-governors showed that most of them were cowards. He said: 'We are aware that Daniel left the country some days ago before his immunity expired. However, we are not perturbed since what happened to former Delta Governor, James Ibori, is fresh in everyone's memory.

'The public office holders should know that the world is a global village as far as the fight against corruption is concerned. This is one of our challenges as these people want to hide behind the law to evade justice.

'However, it may be worse for those who flee than those who brave our enquiries. They should remember that there won't be respite for them wherever they go on the globe.'

Ohakim invited
Vanguard learnt from reliable sources, yesterday, that the immediate past governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim, has been invited to appear at the Abuja head office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Ikedi Ohakim, according to Vanguard sources, was asked to show up at the Commission's office on May 30, 2011 for interview.

The source said: 'He has a date with us tomorrow, and failure to appear at the EFCC headquarters as requested will result in the Commission declaring him a wanted man.'

An aide of the EFCC boss, Mrs Farida Waziri, was quoted by an on-line report as saying that it appears that the former governor was on the run following his hand over to the incoming governor, Rochas Okorocha on Friday, May 27, 2011. The source said the Commission has lost trail of the outgoing governor since the evening of May 27, 2011.

The report also said that an impeccable source in Owerri, the capital of Imo State said that Ikedi Ohakim had escaped to South Africa, adding that immediately after the handover, Ohakim drove to the Owerri airport where a chartered plane was waiting for him. The source said he jetted out to a destination believed to be South Africa.

Apart from Akala, Daniel and Ohakim, names of other ex-governors being bandied for investigation by the EFCC, are Bukola Saraki of Kwara State; Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano State; Ibrahim Shinkafi of Zamfara State; Muhammadu Goje of Gombe State; Modu Sheriff of Borno State and Akwe Doma of Nasarawa State.

These governors lost their immunity on Sunday as none of them returned to office, having either completed their two terms in office or lost their re-election bid in April's governorship election.

Leave Otunba Gbenga Daniel alone - aide
Responding to the allegation that his principal fled the country before his immunity expired, the media assistant to the ex-governor, Mr Adegbenro Adebanjo said: 'As I respond to the wicked insinuation making the round purporting that Otunba Gbenga Daniel has fled the country, it is important to state clearly that there is no truth whatsoever in the claim which is another of the  many lies being bandied about by the political opponents of the former governor of Ogun State.

'For the avoidance of doubt, on Friday, May 27, 2011, the last working day of Otunba Daniel as the governor of Ogun State, he presented his handover notes to the incoming administration and also rendered his account of service. He had earlier presented a compendium of the comprehensive account of all receipts and expenditure from 2003 to 2011 for public scrutiny.

'After the short ceremony, he was escorted out of the governor's office by cheering public servants. At about 11pm he left for London via the British Airways for a scheduled short holiday in England. This is a well deserved holiday for a man who worked for eight years without any holiday or break.

Normal security checks
'Otunba Daniel travelled through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport escorted by the State Security Service personnel and police security detail. He went through all the normal security checks and at no point was any query raised by security agents on duty.

'It is important to note that the former governor had informed all the security chiefs in Ogun State three weeks earlier about his intention to leave the country for a short rest on May 27. All relevant authorities who should be conventionally notified were also in the know of the governor's trip. He did not go through any illegal route. This cannot be the disposition of a man fleeing the country.

'Again in 2003 Otunba Daniel's predecessor did not attend the swearing in ceremony of the new governor and, therefore, there is nothing extraordinary in Otunba Daniel travelling out at this point. It is important to restate that no agency or organization has issued any  query whatsoever formal or informal about anything saved for the wicked lies being bandied about by traducers and their foot soldiers.

'The wicked rumour making the rounds is, therefore, a continuation of the propaganda against the person of the former governor by purveyors of dark politics.

'Otunba Daniel has served Ogun State and Nigeria meritoriously. He should be left alone in peace. All the deliberately simulated allegations cannot hold water. The former governor has no intention to leave his country as he has not committed any offence or infringement against the law of the land. He is well and able to defend his stewardship in Ogun State whenever he is called upon to do so.'