The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, in what is seen by the opposition as persecution, has detained Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, for hours over alleged fraud and failing to explain how he came to own 22 properties in Nigeria, the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.
This comes few days after Nigerian security operatives laid siege on the senator’s Abuja home in a move adjudged by majority of Nigerians to prevent a planned mass defection of APC senators in the Nigerian senate. The feared defection eventully could not be prevented by the security forces as 14 senators on that day succeeded in dumping the ruling party, APC for opposition parties.
Now the EFCC has reportedly detained Mr. Ekweremadu after he honoured their around 9 am on Tuesday but was said to still be in custody as at 9 pm.
A top source at the EFCC told the Punch, “He came in around 9 am and he is still in our custody. He will be released once we have enough information.”
Also the Spokesman for the EFCC, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed that Ekweremadu honoured the commission’s invitation on Tuesday.
According to the newspaper, the Deputy Senate President was said to be under investigation for allegedly owning about 22 properties some of which he failed to declare in his Asset Declaration Form at the Code of Conduct Bureau.
The undeclared assets were reportedly identified as: 11 Evans Enwerem Street, Apo Legislative Quarters, Apo, Abuja; Plot 2633 Kyami, Abuja; Housing Estate; Plot 1106 CRD, Cadastral Zone 07-07, Lugbe, Abuja; Plot 2782, Asokoro Extension, Abuja; houses at Citi Park Estate, Gwagwalada, Abuja and Plot 1474, Cadastral Zone BD6, Mabushi, Abuja.
Other properties allegedly undeclared by the senator include Congress Court, Abuja; Flat 1, Block D25, Athletics Street, (24th Street), Games Village, Abuja; and Plot 66, 64 Crescent, Gwarimpa Estate, Abuja.
Properties allegedly owned by Ekweremadu abroad include: Flat 4, Varsity Court, Harmer Street, WIH 4NW, London; 52, Ayleston Avenue, NW6 7AB, London; Room 1903, The Address Hotel, Downtown Dubai; The Address Boulevard, 3901, Dubai; two Flats of Burij Side Boulevard (the signature), Dubai and Emirate Gardens Apartment No. EGG1/1/114, Dubai.
Others are Emirate Gardens Apartment No. EGG1/115, Dubai; apartment DFB/12/B 1204, Park Towers, Dubai; Flat 3604, MAG214, Dubai; Villa No 148, Maeen 1, The Lakes Emirates Hills, Dubai; 4507 Stella Street, Bellavida Estate Kissime, Florida, United States; 2747 Club Cortile Circle, Kissime, Florida, US and 2763 Club Cortile Circle, Kissime, Florida, US.
Mr. Ekweremadu was, however, released on administrative bail late Tuesday night after being grilled for hour by EFCC by operatives
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party has condemned the alleged harassment of Ekweremadu, opposition leaders, and voices of dissent by the Federal Government.
Reacting to what it described as Senator Ekweremadu’s witch-hunt by the EFCC on Tuesday, the party called on the international community to rein in the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration before it became too late.
The PDP accused the government of misusing the anti-graft and security agencies close to the 2019 general elections, adding that such posed a grave threat to the nation’s democracy.
The party said these in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbodiyan, in Abuja on Tuesday.
The statement said, “Just a few days after the EFCC and over 200 policemen practically held Senator Ekweremadu hostage to prevent the defection of the All Progressives Congress senators to the PDP, the EFCC has continued to harass Senator Ike Ekweremadu to cover its shame.
“We wish to remind Nigerians and the international community that this is only the newest in the series of attempts to destroy the senator politically in the run-up to the 2019 general elections.
“It is of grave concern to us that while corruption and corrupt persons abound in the APC, the EFCC prefers to chase after innocent members of the opposition.
“While the likes of Babachir Lawal, Abba Kyari, Ayo Oke, Kemi Adeosun, Abdulrasheed Maina and his accomplices, Okoi Obono-Obla, and scores of others in the ruling APC, with corruption and fraud-related charges, walk free, the anti-graft agencies have continued in its reckless desperation to harass and dent leaders of the opposition in the name of an anti-corruption war that Nigerians and the world have come to see for what it is- persecution of the opposition.
“We warn the Buhari-led administration to desist from this act of highhandedness and witch-hunt of the opposition so as not to torpedo our democracy.
“The panicky APC government cannot be allowed to destroy opposition leaders just a few months to the general elections in the name of fighting corruption.”
Majority of Nigerians now share the opinion of the PDP.