A former Governor of Nasarawa State, Tanko Al-Makura, has reacted to the report of his arrest by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday.
He said he was not arrested but invited by the anti-graft agency, a statement by his chief press secretary, Danjuma Joseph, stated on Thursday.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the anti-graft agency took Mr Al-Makura and his wife into custody over corruption allegations on Wednesday.
Mr Al-Makura served as Governor of Nasarawa State between 2011 and 2019 before he was elected into the National Assembly as senator representing Nasarawa South Senatorial District.
EFCC has not disclosed the details of the allegations that led to the arrest of the couple who were reportedly still being interrogated at the time of this report.
Mr Al-Makura’s aide was contacted by PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday but said he was not aware of his principal’s arrest.
Mr Joseph, however, said in a statement on Thursday that Mr Al-Makura was only invited “to give his own side of the story to some petitions written against him.”
“He was invited to give his side of the story concerning some petitions against him,” Mr Joseph said, adding, “he personally reported to EFCC, where he met with the chairman and some officials of the anti-graft agency for a short period of time”.
The statement also quoted the former governor as saying of the news of his arrest, “The rumours surprised me and far as I am concerned, it is baseless.”
He added that EFCC had invited him before the Sallah break, but he informed them that he would appear after Sallah and they (EFCC) obliged.
He said he gave the agency all the “necessary answers” to the petitions sent against him.
“When I met with EFCC chairman, he told me there were petitions against me and they wanted to hear from me and my meeting with EFCC chairman wasn’t more than 10 minutes,” Mr Al-Makura was quoted as telling journalists.
The ex-governor, who described himself as a loyal member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), added that “the invitation has nothing to do with his ambition to contest APC national chairmanship”.
He also said he was “waiting for the guidelines to officially declare his ambition”.
What sources say
Sources with understanding of some suspicious transactions involving Mr Al-Makura and his wife told PREMIUM TIMES that their companies, including Ta’al hotel in Lafia, and some businesses, said the EFCC arrested the couple on suspicion of involvement in dirty money flow.
This newspaper learnt that about 55 accounts controlled by the couple and their companies were involved in the suspicious transactions, amounting to billions of naira, when Mr Al-Makura was the governor of Nasarawa State between 2011 and 2019.
In one of the accounts, less than $250 was lodged there in the two years preceding his assumption of office, sources said, adding that soon after he became governor, “huge deposits started flowing in an apparently structured pattern”.
Many deposits into this particular domiciliary account and others were made by businesses alleged to have carried out contracts for the state government.
“The transactions raised suspicion of money laundering or routing of proceeds of corruption,” one source said.
The sources added that the anti-graft agency could have found that the depositors were lodging ‘bribes’ into the accounts.
In one case, one business entity paid over N200 million, broken into structured nine transactions, in a single day, on August 9, 2016, into one of Mr Al-Makura’s accounts, this newspaper learnt.
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