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Bankole begs EFCC, seeks fresh date for interrogation

 News    Friday, May 27, 2011

By Oscarline Onwuemenyi

ABUJA- SPEAKER of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole, yesterday, pleaded with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to allow him report for interrogation at a new date to be fixed by the anti_corruption agency.


Hon. Dimeji Bankole and EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri

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Bankole, who made the plea in a letter addressed to the EFCC Chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri, by the Clerk of the House, said the request for the new date was due to the speaker's involvement in some handover ceremonies.

A battery of anxious journalists and cameramen waited for hours at the headquarters of the anti_corruption agency, after getting confirmation that the embattled speaker would be making an appearance to answer questions regarding his role in the spending of billions allocated to the law making body.

A telephone call to the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Femi Babafemi, had confirmed that Bankole would arrive at the EFCC headquarters in Wuse 2 area, Abuja, by 11.00 am.

Babafemi told Vanguard: "We are expecting him today by 11.00 o'clock to come in and answer some questions regarding his role as leader of the out_going House, especially with regards to the conduct of their financial dealings over the past few years."

However, a source at the Commission said the speaker was wary of being detained at the EFCC cells even after he had given his statement.

The source noted that Bankole's invitation has brought enormous pressure on the Commission from external forces, adding that the agency was "firm in its resolve to see the matter to a logical conclusion."

He said: "Even before we received the letter asking for deferment of this process, we were concerned that the speaker might not want to face the embarrassment of being detained at the Commission at a time like this.

Speaker’s interest

"The speaker is fully aware that investigations of this nature are not necessarily touch and go; due process will be followed and that may require keeping the Speaker within our offices for some time."

The source said it would be in the speaker's interest to "show up at the Commission and clear his name once and for all, in spite of the initial embarrassment," adding: "There is no use delaying the inevitable as in this case."

The anti_graft agency is investigating the speaker's role in some financial transactions executed by the House, which include the alleged use of the House's accounts as collaterals to secure a private loan.

Others include the controversial N10 billion loan, the N2.3 billion car scam, and the purchase of the NET building in Lagos for N4 billion.

Meanwhile, the EFCC has made known its resolve to go after politicians who have misused public funds even as the handover date draws close, especially those in executive positions who have enjoyed immunity over the years.

EFCC Chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri, Wednesday, raised a five_man panel to interrogate the Speaker and other politically exposed suspects of financial and economic crimes.

It was also learnt that some former senators and ex_members of the House of Representatives met with the Senate President, Mr. David Mark, to avert what they perceived as alleged plot to humiliate Bankole.

The ex_lawmakers are urging the Senate president to assert the independence of the Legislature and prevent any attempt to ridicule the House leadership.