Alleged N19bn Fraud: Outrage as Ex Bayelsa Governor, Sylva Reclaims 48 Houses from EFCC

By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye

A former Governor of Bayelsa State and Chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC), Timipre Sylva, has retrieved 48 of his properties seized by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for being questionably and illegally acquired.

In an exclusive report by Punch Newspaper, virtually all the temporarily seized properties of the governor located in Abuja, the federal capital territory are now being occupied by people.

The properties, located mostly in highbrow areas of Abuja such as Wuse II and Maitama, observed that some of the inscription ‘EFCC, Keep Off’, on the gates or fences of the properties, had been wiped off the buildings while some of the buildings had been rented out.

A punch correspondent, who posed as a prospective tenant, was informed that the rent for the properties ranged between N2.5m and N6m per annum.

The correspondent was informed that the 16 units of service apartments at Plot 1181 Thaba Tseka Crescent, off IBB Way in the Wuse II area of the Federal Capital Territory, cost N6m per annum including a N1.5m service charge.

The building provides seven hours of power supply from a generator.

Our correspondent observed that one wing had been painted while the other was under reconstruction.

A guard at the property said, “When the EFCC sealed off this property, it was rotting away. However, it was re-opened a few months ago so we started to refurbish the property. We have repainted the property and we have started renting the apartments out.”

At a block of flats, which comprises nine units (six one-bedroom and three two-bedroom flats) located at 8, Sefadu Street, Wuse, Zone 2, our correspondent was told that the rent ranged from N1.5m to N3m.

“Immediately the EFCC inscriptions were erased, all the flats were taken. There is no vacant apartment now,” the security guard said.

At a property located at 8 Mistrata Street, Wuse II, Abuja, it was observed that the property was a hotel, which charged between N25,000 and N45,000 per room.

The latest development is currently cussing outrage on the social media as Nigerians felt this has dealt a big blow on the integrity of anti-corruption crusade of the current administration of  President Buhari.

A Facebook user, Olutoyosi Olorunfemi wrote on his timeline that President Buhari should allow corruption to keep booming if he can’t fight the battle with fairness. He questioned a situation whereby only members of the opposition PDP are being prosecuted while APC members are being shielded by the party.

Charles Alake, a United Kingdom based Nigerian averred that the current Ibrahim Magu led EFCC will use bad precedent to destroy the future of Nigeria anti-corruption battle if he’s not cautioned.

Alake who is the UK coordinator of Coalition of Nigerians for True Change (CNTC) also questioned the integrity of President Buhari, wondering if Magu could act without the permission of the presidency.

“It is now obvious that this administration of President Buhari is not interested in fighting any corruption but just on a move to decimate opposition using the EFCC. I call on Nigerians to rise against the current leadership of EFCC before they destroy Nigeria with bad precedents”Alake said.

During the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, the EFCC seized 48 properties from Sylva in 2013, an act which the ex-governor described as a witch-hunt and political persecution.

He was subsequently charged with an alleged N19.2bn fraud.

The spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, had said in a statement on January 3, 2013, that the ex-governor allegedly stole funds from the state between 2007 and 2011.

The EFCC subsequently slammed 50 charges against the ex-governor and arraigned him before three Federal High Courts in Abuja.

However, the three courts struck out the case against Sylva, accusing the EFCC of abuse of court processes.

At the last ruling in November 2015, Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja, rose in defense of Silva, describing the allegations against him as an abuse of court process.

The Judge inferred that Sylva’s case was one of persecution by people who wanted to get at him at all cost, using the EFCC.

He thereafter dismissed the case against Sylva.

The case was dismissed when Silva was warming up to run for Bayelsa State governorship election in December.

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