Scores of protesters under the aegis of “Patriotic Mothers Without Borders”, yesterday stormed the Abuja headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) , demanding the “arrest, investigation and prosecution” of Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State over his involvement in the alleged $2.1 billion arms deal scandal.
Chanting “Fayose must go”, the women numbering about 300 carried placards and banners with inscriptions like “EFCC must prosecute Fayose”; “Corruption is Corruption”;”Fayose is being tormented by the blood of innocent Nigerians slaughtered by Boko Haram”.
The convener of the group, Nnenna Jideofor, accused Fayose of stealing part of funds meant to equip the military in the fight against terrorism.
While presenting its petition to Umar Mohammed, Deputy Director Operations, Abuja, Jideofor expressed discontent at the ruling of Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Ekiti, ordering the EFCC to de-freeze Fayose’s Zenith Bank account, which the EFCC had earlier frozen.
She said: “The gravity of the crime does not permit that we wait indefinitely for Fayose to leave office; he would have finished spending his share of the loot by then, and he has all the time to destroy evidence.
“As mothers, we beg the EFCC to as a matter of urgency, investigate how much Fayose gave lawmakers of Ekiti State House of Assembly who we believe have lost their souls to an overlord.
“We therefore represent Nigerians whose opinions get in our homes on daily basis in our natural capacity as mothers. The reality is that people are unanimous in desiring that the anti-graft agencies must not lose the anti-graft war. This is why there are deep running concerns in the land that the Economic and financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been caged but we do not want to believe this. We do not want to accept that the EFCC is merely making show of fighting corruption.
“Several developments contributed to the spread of this impression among Nigerians but our strong belief is that EFCC’s inability to do anything about the Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, publicly known beyond every shadow of doubt to have been a key suspect in the theft of money meant for purchasing weapons to fight Boko Haram terrorists, is the leading cause.
“The Ekiti State governor and his accomplices have blood on their hands in addition to stealing public funds. They took part in stealing the money meant for buying arms to fight Boko Haram.
“The crippling of the military’s fighting capabilities as a result of this has made some women widows and children orphaned.
“What Nigerians are saying is that the EFCC can lose its cases against others that took part in the theft if the arms money simply on account that Fayose is being treated as one who is above the law thereby providing his collaborator with the excuse that the Ekiti state governor cannot be walking free as a direct beneficiary while they get punished as partakers.
“His collaborators, former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, Senator Iyiola Omisore, and others have returned some money. The gravity of this crime does not permit that we wait indefinitely for Fayose to leave office.
“He would have finished spending his share of the loot by then. Besides, this implies the EFCC would not have any exhibit on him again – he had all the time to destroy evidence and clean his track while terrorists continue to kill Nigerians because of his action.
“The Ekiti State governor has now added criminality to brigandage as he diverting the state’s money to questionable NGOs and other shady groups to organize protests that favour his agenda in other states. “This is not just unacceptable and immoral but also criminal as has no right to disburse his state’s money to his cronies under the guise of NGOs or CSOs. Our belief is that more of this will happen if the EFCC does not immediately step in to put an end to this infraction.
“Sometimes last year, the EFCC did the right thing when it froze Fayose’s account with Zenith Bank even though some court ruling later unfroze the account.
“The EFCC must again help Nigerians to test the law by immediately whisking Fayose before competent court after his arrest for being part of those that instigated the arms purchase scandal.
“ We do not see how the immunity granted him by the constitution was meant to protect governors from criminal liability especially where the case of theft is involved.
Responding, Mohammed assured the “mothers with borders” that the agency “takes all petitions seriously, and that of the women would be given adequate attention.
“We are not selective in our operations, and every petition received is thoroughly investigated, no matter how highly placed the person is.”
About N1.299 billion of the sum was allegedly flown in a chartered aircraft to Fayose by a former Minister of State for Defence, Mr. Musiliu Obanikoro.
The cash was part of about N4.745billion paid into Obanikoro’s company, Sylva Mcnamara by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) for Ekiti governorship poll in 2014.
The slush funds had been traced by EFCC to Obanikoro, Fayose, three firms and a former Deputy Governor of Osun State, Otunba Iyiola Omisore.