POLICE ARREST ACTIVIST, DISRUPT PRESS CONFERENCE TO DEMAND SUSPENSION OF DEFENCE MINISTER, MATAWALLE OVER ALLEGED N70B FRAUD
The President of the National Movement for Defence of Democracy and Good Governance (NMDDGG), Goddie Akpama, has been whisked away by Nigerian police in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
Akpama was taken away during a press conference on Thursday.
Akpama was said to have been arrested by police officers and taken to the state command where he met the police commissioner and was made to sign an undertaking not to hold an event or procession on behalf of Dr. Betta Edu, the suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.
Edu was suspended over alleged fraudulent activities in the ministry. She is being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) following a directive by President Bola Tinubu to probe the affairs of the ministry under her.
However, Akpama was released after about five hours and told never to hold the press conference.
The conference was scheduled to be held at the Chinese Restaurant Event Hall in State Housing Estate, Calabar.
It was learnt that the arrest caused panic and apprehension among journalists and activists as they discussed the matter in hushed tones.
The text of the briefing signed by Akpama and distributed among journalists before his arrest asked President Bola Tinubu to forthwith suspend and investigate a former Governor of Zamfara State and Minister of State for Defence, Bello Matawalle just like he suspended Edu.
The EFCC recently said it would revisit its investigation into Matawalle over an alleged ₦70 billion case of money laundering while he was Zamfara State governor.
Matawalle was the Governor of Zamfara State from 2019 to 2023. Allegations of mismanagement of public funds and resources dogged his tenure.
The Zamfara Alternative Forum last week stormed the EFCC Headquarters in protest, urging the EFCC to revisit the probe of Matawalle over alleged money laundering during his tenure as the state governor.
Speaking during the protest, the group’s spokesperson, Mahmud Abubakar, said, “The Zamfara Alternative Forum urges the EFCC to resume its investigation of former governor Bello Matawalle over the ₦70 billion fraud uncovered by the commission during his tenure as governor of Zamfara State.
“This will serve as a deterrent to others considering engaging in corrupt practices in public office, especially in addition to what happened to the humanitarian minister.
“The mismanagement of public funds has far-reaching effects on the people and the state. It leads to a lack of development, loss of revenue, and a decrease in the quality of life for the people.”
Meanwhile, the EFCC’s Acting Director of Public Affairs, Wilson Uwujaren, while speaking on the development in Abuja, assured the protesters that the case would be revisited.
According to him, EFCC believes that no case should be swept under the carpet.
He noted that if someone did something wrong and an investigation was able to establish a case, EFCC would proceed with the matter.
He said, “I want to thank the Zamfara Alternative Forum for doing this peacefully, we like this kind of peaceful protest and initiative by young Nigerians. I want to assure you that as far as the commission is concerned, nobody is above the law.
“What the EFCC Chairman, Ola Olukoyede has done since he assumed office is that he has reviewed all high-profile cases he inherited.
“And the EFCC Chairman has asked me to assure you that this case, like others, would not be an exception. The case will be reviewed, and the Chairman is assuring you that something will be done under the law, and no one is above the law and no case shall be swept under the carpet.””Rest assured that this case will be revisited because EFCC believes that no case should be swept under the law. If you have done something wrong and our investigation is able to establish that you have a case, we will proceed with the matter,” he added.