Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Tuesday, raided the Abuja residence of the immediate-past Imo State governor and current Senator, Rochas Okorocha, with the view of taking him away for questioning at the headquarters of the anit-graft agency.
EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, who disclosed this, said the move followed the refusal of the former governor to honour invitations after jumping the administrative bail earlier granted him by the commission.
EFCC had on January 24, 2022 filed a 17-count criminal charge bordering on diversion of public funds and properties to the tune of N2.9billion against Okorocha.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the EFCC operatives arrived the Maitama residence of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential aspirant in the early hours of Tuesday and laid siege up till Tuesday evening in a bid to gain entrance to the building.
The operatives of the EFCC stormed Okorocha’s residence and barricaded it, preventing movement in and out of the compound.
However, Okorocha, while confirming the raid, said he was being held hostage at his premises.
According to him, “I am under hostage I would say, the EFCC is at my house both the back and the front. I would say, I have enquired if they have an arrest warrant nothing, and I am supposed to be getting ready for screening.
“I don’t know what is really happening, It is unfortunate that this is happening here.”
Okorocha, who addressed journalists inside his room, said EFCC, which re-enforced with additional men, threatened to break the doors and forcefully take him away on the supposed day of the All Progressives Congress presidential screening.
He said ”Frankly speaking, the situation I find myself is a situation of what I call hostage. Policemen and EFCC operatives are currently in my compound and possibly to whisk me away and my gate is blocked.
”All I am asking for now is to allow me to go for my screening because I am a presidential aspirant and our election comes up on Sunday. If I am not allowed to go for this screening, I might miss it.
”I am not an unknown person in the country. I have an address and people know me in the country. All what it takes for the EFCC is to send me an invitation and I will gladly oblige.”
Also, counsel to Okorocha, Ola Olanipekun, SAN, said the operatives came without letter of invitation or warrant of arrest and insisted on taking the senator with them.
“I got a distress call that the Okorocha’s family is under siege and as the lead counsel who is handling all the matters that are in court concerning this matter, I got here and I met a detachment of EFCC officers and security men and they are led by investigation officers who are familiar to us the legal team in this matter.
“My simple request is, what is going on here and the answer is that the director operations want to have a meeting with his excellency former governor and distinguish senator Rochas Okorocha
“Before now, there are issues on the ground, there are extant court orders restraining arrest, restraining interrogation. There are court orders made by the federal high court in Abuja and Port-Harcourt restraining interrogation on this matter
“So what I have sought to do is to ask where the letters for invitation are and there are none. Where are the warrant for arrest? There is none.
Are there court processes to be served? there are none. Infact processes of court are served by court officials, who are the bailiff of the court” he said.
The counsel said he appealed that Okorocha be given another date to oblige the request but it was not granted.
“I have also requested that the invitee should be given time to report either later this week or early next or any other time other than the day of the presidential aspirants under the platform of APC which the distinguish senator is a most prominent person who is to be screened for the presidency of Nigeria.
” Today is the day of screening and an invitation by any security agencies that is not preceded by a letter of invitation or notice before now to us is very prejudicial.
“That is why we requested that a day be fixed so that the senator can voluntarily go and keep an appointment with whoever it is that is inviting him again that has been turned down,” he added.
Okorocha’s case with the EFCC had been ongoing since he left office as governor of Imo state and the EFCC had filed a 17-count charge to the tune of N2.9 billion against him in late January.
Part of the charges filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja, accused Okorocha of conspiring with others, including a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and five companies to steal from the public coffers.
Others listed as respondents to the suit were Anyim Nyerere Chinenye, Naphtali International Limited, Perfect Finish Multi Projects Limited, Consolid Projects Consulting Limited, Pramif International Limited, and Legend World Concepts Limited