Former Bayelsa State governor, Timipre Sylva, who is facing corruption charges slammed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has denied “running from justice” after several months in the hiding.
Mr. Sylva slipped into hiding soon after leaving office in January 2012 in a departure that climaxed a tumultuous transition to his successor, Henry Dickson, who is backed by President Goodluck Jonathan.
He has complained about his safety in the past, and his whereabouts have since remained unknown even after the N4.9 billion charges were pressed against him in February.
Not seen anywhere for summons service, the anti-corruption agency claimed, a Federal High Court in Abuja permitted the agency to paste the court invitation on the gate of his residence in Abuja.
Mr. Sylva said he was no “fugitive from justice”, but was keeping a “low profile because he does not want his security to be compromised.”
“We wish to clarify that Sylva is not on the run,” his media aide, Doifie Ola said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Since 27 January when the Supreme Court removed him as Governor of Bayelsa State, Sylva has been a private citizen. As a private citizen, he has the right to move freely to wherever he wishes.”
A mark of many of his remarks lately, which have featured caustic criticisms of Mr. Jonathan and his political godson, Mr. Dickson, the former governor dismissed the contentious election that denied him a second term bid as a “riotous governorship adventure”, and blamed the new administration which he recently labeled a “puppet”, for his security fears.
“The whole world has been living witness to the brazen disrespect for our laws, which those charged with the maintenance of law and order in the land have exhibited since the outbreak of their riotous governorship adventure in Bayelsa State,” he said.
“If those we all should rely on for our security could so blatantly run riot on our laws and liberties, it is not hard to determine the extent they can go against the one they have openly declared the target of all their illicit maneuvers in the state.”
Mr. Sylva also denied he has ever been invited by the EFCC and said the amount involved was N2.45 billion, and nothing more.
“The charges brought against Sylva by EFCC are not new. They are charges for which some former and serving officials of the Bayelsa State Government have already been standing trial since April 2010. What the EFCC has done is to simply add Sylva’s name,” he said.
“This is government money used for government business,” he added.