EFCC breaks into Okorocha’s Abuja residence, arrests ex-gov

By Michael Ntekim

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday arrested former Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State after laying siege to his Abuja home for seven hours.

Okorocha, who currently represents Imo-West senatorial district, was arrested by a combined team of EFCC operatives and policemen who broke into his home through the ceiling after he had denied them entry.

The former governor, who is a presidential aspirant in the All Progressives Congress, has been having a running battle with the EFCC since he ended his tenure in 2019.

The senator had visited the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in March where he pleaded with Buhari to caution the EFCC.

He had also obtained a court order barring the commission from arresting or harassing him.

On Tuesday, however, EFCC agents stormed his home located in highbrow Maitama around 11.30am, insisting that he follow them to the headquarters of the commission.

The EFCC, in a statement by its spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, said the commission had to arrest Okorocha because he had to face trial on May 30 and the judge had threatened to strike out the case if the former governor was not brought to court.The spokesman further stated that Okorocha had ignored all invitations and even jumped bail, hence the commission had no choice but to arrest him.

The statement read in part, “The EFCC, had on January 24, 2022 filed a 17-count criminal charge bordering on diversion of public funds and properties to the tune of N2.9bn against Okorocha.

“The case was assigned to Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja but attempts to arraign Senator Okorocha were twice stalled owing to the absence of the ex-governor who evaded service of processes.

“At the last adjourned date, March 28, 2022, Justice Ekwo before adjourning until May 30, 2022, had warned that it was ‘the last adjournment I shall grant in this matter’. In the circumstances, the commission is left with no option but to arrest Senator Okorocha and bring him to trial.”

Reacting, however, Okorocha said it was all a ploy to prevent him from attending the presidential screening of the APC.

The Imo West senator wondered why he was being treated like a common criminal.

“‘Frankly speaking, the situation I find myself in is what I call holding a person hostage. Policemen and EFCC operatives are currently in my compound to possibly whisk me away. 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 that it takes for the EFCC is to send me an invitation and I will gladly oblige,” Okorocha said.

Repeated attempts by the EFCC to enter the main building were rebuffed by many of Okorocha’s aides and security detail.

While this lasted, supporters of the former governor gathered outside the compound and began protesting, describing the incident as a witch-hunt.

Okorocha’s lawyer, Ola Olanipekun, told The PUNCH that the EFCC operatives that laid siege to the senator’s home did not come with a warrant of arrest or invite him.

He said there were valid court orders from two courts barring the EFCC from arresting the former governor.

The lawyer added, “Any invitation by any security agency that is not preceded by a letter of invitation or notice before now 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.

“Secondly, you should have a warrant of arrest, but none is available in this case.”

After several hours, the EFCC operatives later made reinforcements and shot sporadically, making journalists and protesters scamper to safety, while they barricaded the house, and surrounded his residence with heavily-armed operatives.

Minutes before the operatives broke in, Okorocha, in a live video made on his official Facebook page, said that officers of the commission had broken all his bulletproof doors.

He said, “The EFCC operatives are here with some gunmen and they have broken all my bulletproof doors. This may be my last appearance because I don’t know what they want to do.

Okorocha and his family members could be seen in the video running around the living room in fear of the operatives who were banging on the door leading to the living room.

The operatives eventually broke through the ceiling, arresting Okorocha. He was immediately put into a ready vehicle and whisked away while tear gas was fired to disperse journalists as well as supporters of the former governor.  


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