Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, EFCC, on Thursday at its Abuja office quizzed a senator and former governor of Abia State, Theodore Orji, over an allegation that he diverted N521 billion from the state to his personal use.
Mr Orji’s son, Chinedum, who is the Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, was also quizzed alongside his father.
The investigation followed a petition dated March 17, 2017, filed by a group, Fight Corruption: Save Nigeria Group.
The petitioner accused Mr Orji, who served two terms as governor between 2007 and 2011, of withdrawing N500 million monthly as security vote from the state’s treasury during his eight years in office.
Mr Orji, since leaving office as governor, has been serving as a senator. The petition accused him of diverting ”N383 billion revenue from the Federation Account, N55 billion Excess Crude revenue, N2.3 billion Sure-P revenue, N1.8 billion ecological funds, N10.5 billion loan, N12 billion Paris Club refund, N2 billion agricultural loan, and N55 billion ASOPADEC money while in office.”
According to the petition, the N500million the former governor allegedly withdrew monthly was “not part of the security funds expended on the Nigerian Police, the Nigerian Army, DSS, Navy anti-Kidnapping Squad, anti-robbery Squad, purchase of Security equipment and vehicles for the security agencies.”
The petitioner also accused Mr Orji’s son, Chinedum Orji, who is currently the Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly, of owning about 100 accounts in different banks.
It added that the accounts which run both as corporate and Individual received ”so much deposit in cash without evidence of job or services rendered.”
His investigations come months after the EFCC secured the conviction of his former boss and predecessor, Orji Kalu, on December 5. Orji Kalu was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment after being found guilty on 39 counts of fraud to the tune of N7.65 billion.
Mr Orji currently represents Abia Central Senatorial District in the Senate. He served Mr Kalu as Chief of Staff before succeeding him as Abia governor.
Mr Kalu is also a senator representing Abia North in the Red Chamber.
The EFCC acting spokesperson, Tony Orilade, in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Monday, confirmed that the commission was investigating the Orji family members accused in the petition.
Mr Orilade said, ”Operatives of the Commission on Thursday, February 5, 2020, invited both Orji and his son in continuation of the investigation.”
He said the two politicians were released on administrative bail but did not state when they are expected back at the commission.
On why it took the EFFC over three years to begin investigations over the petition, Mr Orilade said the commission only followed its procedure for the exercise, saying investigations do not always begin immediately upon receipt of petitions.