The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) on Friday filed a six-count fraud charge against former governor of Bayelsa state, Timipreye Sylva, accusing him of financial abuses to the tune of N4.9 billion.
Mr. Sylva and his alleged accomplices remained at large and were yet to be arrested by Friday, according to papers filed at an Abuja federal high court.
He stands accused of siphoning state funds under false pretences, through several banks and a bureau de change agent between 2009 and 2010 when Mr. Sylva took charge as the governor of the oil-rich Niger Delta state.
The state is seen as one of the region’s poorest despite the huge oil wealth that has seen multiple administrations controlling nearly a trillion naira since the return of democracy in 1999.
Mr. Sylva is the second of the state’s past governors to face corruption charges after Diepreye Alamieyeseigha who was impeached in 2004 on grounds of money laundering.
President Goodluck Jonathan, himself a former governor of the state, has recently blamed Mr. Sylva for much of the ills and wastages the state has faced, specifically citing a prolonged hotel project that began under Mr. Alamieyeseigha, continued during the president’s tenure as governor, before being inherited and left uncompleted by Mr. Sylva.
Mr. Sylva lost a re-election bid this month to the president’s handpicked candidate, Seriake Dickson, a former House of Representatives member.
According to the charges filed by the EFCC today, Mr. Sylva converted about N2 billion worth of properties and resources belonging to the state between 2009 and 2010, under false pretence, with an intention to hide the origin of the proceeds, an offence punishable by Anti-money Laundering Act.
A further N380 million, N20 million were also converted separately under similar circumstances within the same period, the commission said.
Then, the most brazen appears to be his alleged request of Union Bank to provide a N2 billion over draft under the false pretense of augmenting state workers’ salaries.