The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday arrested the immediate past governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano.
He was arrested at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos, at about 8:30 pm last night.
The arrest came barely hours after attending the inauguration of his successor, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo.
He was said to have been arrested on his way to Houston, Texas, United States of America, last night. Obiano had been on the commission’s watchlist.
EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed the arrest.
The EFCC had requested the Nigeria Immigration Service to inform it anytime the governor was travelling out of the country from any of the international airports, as well as other points of entry and exit.
It is, however, not clear why the anti-graft agency placed the governor on a watchlist.
Sources said the move was a confirmation that the agency may have been discreetly investigating the former governor and possibly had intelligence that he was planning to escape after handing over power to his successor, Professor Charles Soludo, on March 16, 2022.
Former Anambra State Commissioner for Information, Don Adinuba, had, at the time, condemned the EFCC watchlist reports, claiming that they were politically motivated.
“Governor Obiano has a whole four months to remain in office as the Anambra State chief executive,” Adinuba said. “Nobody in Nigeria can circumscribe his constitutionally conferred immunity which shields him from both criminal and civil prosecution.
“The EFCC went too far to announce in November that it is observing him. We are not aware of any state governor who had up to four months to be in office and the EFCC went on to sponsor media reports that he was being investigated,’’ Adinuba had said
Obiano’s wife, Bianca Ojukwu fought at Soludo’s inauguration
Meanwhile, there was drama yesterday at the inauguration of Charles Chukwuma Soludo as governor of Anambra State, as the wife of the immediate past governor, Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano, and wife of the late Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu, Bianca, were engaged in a fight.
The incident, which took place at Government House, Awka, disrupted the oath-taking of Governor Soludo and his deputy, Dr Onyekachukwu Ibezim, administered by Chief Judge of the state, Justice Onochie Anyachebelu.
The new governor and his deputy were still signing the oath-taking register when Obiano’s wife arrived and went straight to where Bianca Ojukwu was already seated.
In what people around initially took as a joke, Mrs Obiano was heard asking Bianca: “What are you doing here? You said we will never win the governorship and here you are.”
This infuriated Bianca, who got into a verbal exchange with Mrs Obiano and it degenerated into a fight.
Security men and guests rushed to separate both ladies and dragged Mrs Obiano to where her husband, Chief Willie Obiano, was seated.
As soon as Soludo finished signing the documents, he came down from the podium and greeted the Obianos, the former governor and his wife departed the venue
Bianca Ojukwu, however, stayed till the end of the ceremony.
Although Governor Soludo expressed worry over the incident, he looked unruffled by it.
The new governor’s media aide, Mr Joe Anatune, thereafter, issued a statement, apologising on behalf of his boss about the incident.
He said: “Governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo hereby apologises to Anambra people, their friends, and guests, who attended his inauguration this morning for the breach of protocol.
“The breach was caused by improper communication, which itself arose from a personal issue between the two parties involved in the breach.
“Steps are being taken to resolve the misunderstanding and restore the parties to their previous relationship. Anambra State has over the years been known for a huge stock of social harmony, and the stock will increase substantially in the years ahead, as part of a concerted effort to accelerate the state’s development.
“God bless Anambra State, the Light of the Nation”.
While delivering his inaugural speech, Soludo said: “The Anambra we are talking about is a place of law and order.”
He, however, did not dwell much on the incident.
In the speech that lasted about 50 minutes, the governor said: “My people of Anambra State, this is the moment. I applied for this job and APGA, our party, shortlisted me and you, my fellow Anambra people, interviewed and employed me as your chief servant and Dr Onyekachukwu Ibezim as my deputy.
“God ordained this moment and we are grateful to Him and you all for the privilege to serve you. We will work hard to make you proud. Today is my first day at work and I will work for eight hours today”.
Explaining why he chose a low-key inauguration, Soludo added: “We had over one month to celebrate our victory. Now is the time to work and there is no minute or money to waste for fanfare. We could not organise an elaborate ceremony because the state cannot afford it.
“Besides, for personal reasons, I do not subscribe to using the paltry taxes collected from market women and okada/keke operators on fleeting fanfare and banquet. I insisted that this inauguration will not cost the government of Anambra State one kobo and it has not. I would rather use our available resources to lay the foundation for a public hospital at Okpoko or elsewhere, or empower our security agencies to fight criminality.
“Within the next one week, the list of commissioners will be laid before the House of Assembly. Tomorrow, we will head to Okpoko in Ogbaru Local Government Area and parts of Onitsha and Idemili as we signpost our commencement to urban regeneration, beginning with the greater Onitsha metropolis”.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for ‘remaining a true democrat’ and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as well as security agencies for insisting on a credible electoral process.
Soludo also paid tribute to the three policemen, Inspector Murtala Sayeed, Sergeant Mudashiru Ahmed, and Sergeant Samuel Ishaya, who lost their lives to unknown gunmen, who attacked his home at Isuofia in Aguata Local government Area during a meeting with youths in his village last year and promised to continue to take care of their families.
The governor, who was adorned in the local Akwete dress with a black trouser and a red cap to match, attended the ceremony with his wife and six children.
As earlier promised, he was driven into Government House in an Innoson SUV vehicle, which he stated would be his official vehicle and that of his deputy.
His inauguration yesterday drew reactions from stakeholders, who saw his election as a positive development for Anambra State.
Igbo youths call for an arrest, prosecution of Obiano’s wife
Reacting to the clash between both women, a coalition of South-East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, the umbrella body of all youth groups in the southeast geopolitical zone, called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of Mrs Obiano.
COSEYL, in a press statement signed by its National President, Goodluck Ibem; and Publicity Secretary, Comrade Okey Nwaoru, strongly condemned the action, which it described as “abominable” given the pedigree of the Ojukwu family.
The statement read: “It is the height of insult on the entire Igbo nation for Mrs. Obiano to fight the wife of our revered and great Igbo leader and icon, Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu.
“The father of Bianca, Chief C. C. Onoh, was a former governor of old Anambra State, who achieved so much for his people.
“Mrs. Obiano has desecrated the temple and honour of the entire Igbo nation and she has to be disciplined.
“We demand the immediate arrest and prosecution of Mrs Obiano by security agencies. As youth leaders of the entire Igbo nation, we cannot and will not accept or play down such a great insult to the wife of our great leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu.
“Mrs. Obiano has purchased some goods and those goods she bought have to be supplied to her in full without removing any item from the goods she bought.
“We, therefore, declare Mrs Obiano, the wife of former governor of Anambra State, Mr Willie Obiano, a persona non grata in Igboland for desecrating Alaigbo. The order has been given and it must be strictly adhered to.”
Why Obiano’s wife deserves what she got — Joe Igbokwe
Also reacting to the incident, Joe Igbokwe, the Special Adviser for Drainage and Water Resources to Governor Babajide Sanwo- Olu of Lagos State, said the immediate past First Lady of Anambra State, Ebelechukwu Obiano, “got what she wanted” in her scuffle with Bianca Ojukwu.
“See the shame. Mrs Obiano went to confront and abuse Bianca Ojukwu and she got what she wanted. A big lesson to all,” Igbokwe, an indigene of Nnewi in Anambra State, wrote on his known Facebook page.
Reacting after the fight, Bianca Ojukwu congratulated Soludo on his swearing-in as the governor of Anambra State.
Bianca in a post on her Facebook page described the inauguration as ‘liberation day for Anambra State.’
She wrote. “It’s Liberation Day, and today we sing the Redemption Song. Anambra will be better!
“Now I know just how those Israelites felt on the day they took those tentative first steps out of the land of Egypt….Just the sheer excitement and anticipation of liberation, the long-awaited return to the promised land must have kept them awake through that night.
“This is the Day the Lord has made…a day that reaffirms the age-long truth that no-one holds the stage forever. I thank The Almighty for keeping us all alive to witness this day.’’
She added that a more dynamic and progressive Anambra was achievable.
“To Him be the glory. It was long in coming, but it’s finally here. Yes indeed….We are the barracks!” she added.
Soludo, round peg in a round hole —Abia ex- Commissioner
Celebrating Soludo’s victory, former Commissioner for Commerce in Abia State, Mr Sampson Orji, described the newly-inaugurated governor as “a round peg in a round hole”.
Orji said the emergence of an erudite economist and a seasoned technocrat in the mould of Soludo as governor of Anambra State will have tremendous and positive impacts on the economy of the state.
His words: “This is one of the greatest things that has happened to Nigeria, a rare occasion where the country has produced a round peg in a round hole.
“Soludo is a rounded administrator, and an accomplished economist, who will bring to bear his wealth of knowledge on the already stable Anambra economy.”
Soludo, good omen for Nigeria politics — Ohuabunwa
In his reaction, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa described the emergence of Soludo as “a good omen for Nigeria politics”.
He said it signalled “the dawn of a new era, where we will begin to recognize men of quality, capacity and integrity.”
Senator Ohuabunwa also commended the immediate-past governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, for “not anointing a stooge who will be answering him, sir, to the detriment of the state.”