It was drama and confusion in Lagos yesterday over a raid on the homes of the immediate past governor of the state, Akinwunmi Ambode, by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over an alleged N9.9 billion fraud.
While the governor confirmed that his Epe country home and Parkview Estate home in Ikoyi were searched by operatives of the anti-graft agency, EFCC’s Acting Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Tony Orilade, said the action was in furtherance of the on-going investigation of Ambode’s administration.
But, the Acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, said his men were hunting for the former chief of staff to former governor, Olukunle Ojo.
Magu, who spoke with journalists at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said his men were hunting for Ojo. “It was the chief of staff’s house we raided not the governor,” he said.
However, Ojo, who debunked report that his house in Epe was raided by operatives of the anti-graft agency, alleged that the building that was searched belongs to the former Personal Assistant to Ambode, Mr. Bunmi Ariyo.
It was gathered that scores of Epe residents trooped out to protest the invasion of Ambode’s home without a search warrant. The residents, comprising mainly young men, attempted to attack the EFCC operatives, who shot into the air and zoomed off.
The former governor, however, urged his supporters and the general public to remain calm and law abiding as there was no cause for alarm.
Ambode, in a statement by his media aide, Mr. Habib Aruna, said that the two houses were searched without any incident, adding that the Commission, till date, has not opened any direct communication with him on any issue.
Wondering why the anti-graft agency was yet to communicate with him, the former governor said he was ready and willing to respond if or when the agency does so.
“This morning (yesterday), EFCC operatives visited the Epe country home and Parkview Ikoyi residence of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, former governor of Lagos State, with warrants to conduct a search. These searches were carried out extensively and at the end of the exercise, the operatives left without any incident.
“The former governor reiterates that the EFCC has, till date, not had any direct communication with him on any subject matter whatsoever and, if or when it occurs, he is ready and willing to respond.
“The former governor wishes to assure his supporters and the generality of Lagosians to continue to remain calm and law-abiding as there is no cause for alarm,” Ambode’s media aide said.
Even as his supporters described the raid as witch-hunting, the former governor reiterated his belief in the rule of law and due process and remains grateful for the opportunity to have served Lagos State.
It would be recalled that Ambode, in an earlier response to allegations by EFCC that it had frozen certain accounts linked to him, insisted that no account of his contained N9.9 billion, let alone being frozen by the Commission as the said accounts were opened and operated by Lagos State government.
EFCC’s spokesman, Orilade, who confirmed that operatives of the Commission undertook the operation at the Epe residence of the former governor, said like other former governors, Ambode had lost the constitutional immunity of an incumbent, hence the probe.
He explained: “The EFCC has since early hours of today (yesterday), been inundated with calls that operatives of the Commission raided the residence of the former governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode.
“We need to state for the records that the EFCC did not raid Ambode’s house. It is instructive that his administration, like other former governors, is under investigation, since they no longer constitutionally enjoy immunity against prosecution.
“The Commission hereby states with high sense of responsibility that the operatives did not raid Ambode’s residence. Whatever the Commission is presently doing with regards to the investigation is in line with its mandate and the rule of law.
“We wish to inform the social media to be circumspect in the reportage of any news with regards to investigation activities of the Commission. As a tradition, the Commission does not carry out investigation on the pages of newspapers or through the media. Our operations are always covert until at a time when we file charges in court.
“Therefore, the attempt to cast the Commission in a bad light is unacceptable as the EFCC will never engage in illegal act. We remain committed to the war against corruption.”
Meanwhile, Ambode’s former Chief of Staff, Ojo, in a statement by his media aide, Cornelius Kayode, said: “Mr. Kunle Ojo did not have any personal house in Epe, how can the EFCC raid the house one doesn’t have? So, the report is misleading and baseless.
“The former COS doesn’t have a house in Epe as claimed in some media reports. The house belongs to Bunmi Ariyo, Ambode’s PA,” he said. – New Telegraph.