Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to disclose the identity of owner of the $43 million (N15 billion) discovered at the Ikoyi, Lagos luxury apartment and save Nigerians the embarrassment the controversy trailing the recovered money has caused.
He warned that not doing so would further dent the image of the country, especially as it concerns the war on corruption.
The Senate president, who spoke on Arise Television, while reechoing calls by prominent Nigerians, including two Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana and Mike Ozekhome, said the EFCC should not have allowed the controversy over ownership of the money to have arisen.
According to him, the commission should save the country the ongoing debate about who kept the money there, by naming those connected to it.
He said: “I don’t think I should speculate or join the conversation on who the money belongs to. I know it is the responsibility of the EFCC to reveal who the money belongs to. This is very simple. The agency that recovered the money should reveal who the money belongs to, in order to put an end to this.
“It is not good for the image of this country. It is not good for EFCC image if it is not what it claims to be. We have heard different views, whether it is an individual, company, state government or an agency. I
think this circus must end. They owe it to Nigerians to tell us who the money belongs to. I am of the view that the fight against corruption is institutional and we must reduce this sensationalism.
“This matter should not have happened in the first place. If they don’t resolve it, we might invite them, but I am saying it should not have
arisen at all.
“They (EFCC) must save Nigeria this embarrassment and if they don’t put it to rest, they might come before the House of Representatives or the Senate.”
The Senate president, who also spoke about a wide range of issues concerning the relationship between the executive and the legislature, said the two arms of government were not at war.
He contended that the nature of presidential system of government,
which Nigeria practices, gives room for checks and balances, adding that the Senate had always responded positively to presidential nominations.
Saraki declared that one or two instances should not be used to judge the relationship between the Senate or the National Assembly and the executive, adding that 90 per cent of the presidential nominees were passed.
The Senate president also declared that the committee on executive-legislature face-off, set up by the Presidency, was yet to communicate the Senate since the announcement.
Saying the executive might have changed its mind on the committee, Saraki stated that the team was not set up because of the rejection of Ibrahim Magu as chairman of the EFCC.
Meanwhile, as part of its efforts to ascertain the owner of the recovered N15 billion, the EFCC has conducted searches in flats in the Ikoyi building.
It was gathered that the anti-corruption agency, after the discovery of the money, sent its operatives to search all the flats in the building, following initial suspicion that some tenants therein may know something about the occupant of the apartment where the money was discovered.
Since nothing incriminating was discovered in the flats so searched, nobody has been invited for questioning or arrested, it was gathered.
Reacting, Val Obienyem, media aide to the former Anambra State governor, Mr. Peter Obi, confirmed the search of his boss’ flat by EFCC.
According to him, a search was conducted on Flat 1, occupied by the former governor, just as other flats.
Obienyem revealed that Flat 1 in the building was rented by Obi’s wife, but the ex-governor, who resides in Onitsha, Anambra State, usually stays there anytime he visits Lagos.
On what happened, he said: “Even though Mr. & Mrs. Obi had travelled to the USA and the UK for speaking engagements, when we relayed the message of the search to him, he quickly sent the keys to the four-bedroom apartment to the EFCC via courier. He even left instructions that we should allow them to also search his Onitsha residence, should there be need for that. After the thorough searching, nothing was found in the apartment.”
Obienyem said during the search one of the EFCC operatives doubted if the apartment had anything to do with Obi, citing the fact that it was the simplest, in terms of furnishing.