The spokesperson for the immediate past Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, on Sunday, decried a viral video footage showing the ex-governor in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
James Eze, the spokesperson for Mr Obiano, in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, said the leakage of the clip was a blight on the image of EFCC, while also condemning what he described as the awful treatment of his boss in detention.
In the 12-second clip that has gone viral across social media platforms, Mr Obiano, who was dressed in shorts and a white shirt, was seen drinking from a bottle in a closed room presumed to be in EFCC custody.
The video has since elicited reactions, with many Nigerians denouncing it and demanding an investigation into its leakage into the social media space.
Mr Eze confirmed that the footage in circulation is authentic, adding that it does not portray his principal in a good light.
“I am confirming what was in the video, and whoever allowed that video to come out and circulate heavily on social media, does not mean well for the image of Nigeria and the image of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and for the image of my former boss, the former governor of Anambra state,” he said.
He also accused the anti-graft authority of persecuting Mr Obiano, saying that an accused person is presumed innocent until he is convicted.
“And I personally believe that this is a witch-hunt as the matter has been treated with a video recording of the former governor in the EFCC facility. It makes it very obvious that this is not the EFCC usual trail as we know it.
“An accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a competent Court of law. And for them to be making a mockery in the media of a video of him in his underpants circulating in the public, I think the media should be astounded by that because it is Obiano today, it could be anybody else tomorrow.”
He also called for an immediate investigation of “the awful treatment of a perceived offender”. He said people should be treated with dignity.
“Here is a man who did not resist arrest and you are disposing of him in his underpants, that is an assault of the dignity of Nigerians, not Obiano alone.
Asked if he has any information on Mr Obiano’s release, the spokesman said: “I don’t have any information if he has been released. If he has been released we would be happy, because he has been unduly held for offences that are not so clear.”
When contacted, the EFCC’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren , confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Obiano is still in the custody of the EFCC
Mr Uwujaren declined to speak on the video showing Mr Obiano. He urged our reporter to await a press statement.
“I am preparing a press statement, he said in a terse message sent to our reporter,” he said.
Mr Obiano was apprehended at Murtala Muhammad International Airport in Lagos at about 8.30 p.m. on Thursday.
Sources at the commission, who asked not to be named because they were not authorised to speak to the press on the matter, had said Mr Obiano was arrested at Lagos airport as he was preparing to board a flight to Houston, Texas United States.
On Friday, EFCC transferred him from its Lagos zonal office, where he passed the first night after his arrest, to Abuja.
Although details of the allegations against him are still sketchy, media reports have said the governor of Anambra for two terms is being quizzed by EFCC detectives over alleged misappropriation of public funds, including N5billion Sure-P and N37billion security vote which was withdrawn in cash.
Part of the money is also said to have been diverted to fund political activities in the state.
“Obiano was arrested for alleged misappropriation of public funds, including, N5bn Sure-P and N37billion security vote which was withdrawn in cash. Part of the funds was also allegedly diverted to finance political activities in the state,” EFCC’s spokesperson, Mr Uwujaren, was quoted as telling Punch.
Recall that the commission had since last year placed the former governor on its watch list.
PREMIUM TIMES reported in November last year that the EFCC had in a letter to the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) dated November 15, 2021, requested the Service to place the governor on a watchlist and inform it anytime he is travelling out of the country from any of the international airports and other points of entry and exit.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: Call Willie - +2348098788999