Friday, September 16, 2016

I'm Not On The Run, Shema Tells EFCC

Former Katsina State Governor Ibrahim Shema said yesterday he is not on the run from investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC).

The agency on Wednesday declared him wanted for avoiding invitation over an alleged N74.6billion fraud. The ex-governor said he was prepared to honour the invitation of the EFCC on June 28 but the anti-graft agency cancelled the interview at the last minute. He said he had been waiting for another invitation from the EFCC since June.

He expressed surprise that he was declared wanted and described the action as “malicious and misleading.”

Shema made the clarifications in a letter to the EFCC. The letter said in part: “Without any formal invitation to me, the EFCC purported, by a letter dated June 17, 2016, sent to a wrong address of Wole Olanipekun & Co. asking the law firm to make Dr. Ibrahim Shehu Shema available for an interview with the undersigned on Tuesday, June 28, 2016.The letter was signed by Hyecinth A. Edozie.

“Despite the incongruity in the way and manner the invitation was extended to me through a counsel – and also through a wrong address of the same counsel, and notwithstanding the fact that I was already billed to travel to Saudi Arabia for the lesser hajj (Umrah) on the appointment day, I cancelled all the engagements to honour the invitation with my counsel on the said June 28, 2016, only to be informed, around 10am on that day that the interview would no longer hold, as Mr. Hyecinth A. Edozie was out of Abuja, and that a new date, after Sallah, would be communicated.”

Shema said his lawyer wrote a letter to the EFCC on June 28, 2016 addressed to Edozie for a new date for interrogation.
The letter was delivered, received, stamped and duly acknowledged at the EFCC office on the same day June 28, 2016.
“To date, the EFCC has not responded to the said letter, suggesting any date,” he added. Shema described the notice declaring him wanted as embarrassing and surprising.

He said: “As a senior citizen of this country, a legal practitioner of 32 years post-call experience, and a two-time governor of Katsina State, I not only feel seriously embarrassed, disturbed, surprised and confounded by the report sponsored by EFCC, but also feel sorry for our dear country.

“I feel sorry for the pitiable situation we have found ourselves as Nigerians where and when a sacred institution like the EFCC is pressurized and used to sponsor fake, false, malicious, misleading and unfounded allegations against someone like me, who the EFCC has not at any time accused of fraud, embezzlement, inflation of contract, or any misdemeanour at all.

“The EFCC deliberately embarked on false propaganda against me and my person by positing that I have ignored several invitations which it extended to me.”

A statement by the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said Shema was “wanted in connection with a case of criminal conspiracy, inflation of contracts, abuse of office, diversion of funds and embezzlement running into billions of Naira. “The former governor ignored several invitations by the commission since December 1, 2015 when he was first summoned by the agency.
“All efforts to locate him at his known address in Katsina and Abuja were futile.”