N450m campaign fund: EFCC plans to arraign Chime, Umahi

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It was gathered that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said in Enugu yesterday that it may prosecute former governor of Enugu State, Sullivan Chime and Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi over the N450 million campaign fund allegedly disbursed through them by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before the 2015 general elections.

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Chime had earlier told the EFCC that he only provided custody to the campaign funds which was later disbursed by those concerned with campaigns in the state.

The anti-graft agency also disclosed that it detained two Enugu commissioners, Mrs. Rita Mbah (Culture and Tourism) and Chief Charles Egumgbe (Water Resources), at the weekend, over the election campaign funds released to the state by the PDP.

Egumgbe was chairman of the PDP campaign organisation in Enugu last year while Mrs. Mbah was the secretary.

Also, detained at the zonal headquarters of the EFCC in Enugu was a former commissioner in Chime’s administration, Mr Joe Mammel and former PDP chairman in the state, Chief Ikeji Asogwa.

Addressing a press conference in Enugu, yesterday, EFCC South-East Zonal Head, Mr Johnson Babalola said: “We are investigating the campaign funds with regards to the 2015 general elections. It is a national issue and those involved across the states are being called to answer for what happened to the money given to them.

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So, it’s the same thing that has happened in the South-East, particularly with regards to Enugu and Ebonyi states.”

He confirmed that Chime and Umahi were suspects being investigated in the matter; and added,  “we will continue to invite them until we conclude our investigation and probably, prosecute the case.

“Yes, the former governorswere called; they are suspects. The case is still under investigation.  The commissioners were invited; they came and made statements and if we still need them tomorrow, we will ask them to come again and give additional statements.  They are not in court, yet. We are still investigating; same thing with Ebonyi State.

“The money, when it was given to them was paid into Umahi’s company’s account; he was the deputy governor at that time and the money was paid into the account and it was from there the money was wired to some other people which was used; we are investigating that too.

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“The two commissioners from Enugu are being investigated in connection with the same case because they were operatives of the government as at the time this issue happened and we have been able to trace some issues to them. They were aware of the money and they partook in whatever the money was used to do.

“Yes, they were detained; this is EFCC; nobody is above detention. If your case warrants being detained, we are going to keep you; Heavens will not fall.

“The only thing is that we do it under the ambit of the law. There is nobody…unless you have immunity; if you don’t have immunity and you commit an offence that warrants you to be detained, we will detain you.”

When contacted, Chief Asogwa distanced himself from disbursement of the campaign funds.

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Asogwa insisted he stood by his statement at the EFCC; that “the party organ received the money and sent the same to the Government House and was not involved in the disbursement.”

Babalola who also briefed the media on the achievements recorded in the fight against corruption in the zone disclosed that in the course of investigations, the zone has recovered over N245 million, $955,465, in cash.

He noted that the zone has successfully completed some of the cases where monies were recovered and suspects prosecuted; out of which the sum of $130,750 has been forfeited and paid into the coffers of the Federal Government.

The EFCC boss further revealed that the zone has a total of 522 cases currently under investigation, pointing out that 36 of the cases have been concluded and charged to various courts in the South-East while “a total of 14 convictions have been secured.”

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