The Federal Government will begin a comprehensive probe of the Ekitigate scandal in Ekiti State immediately the tenure of Governor Ayodele Fayose ends in October.
A presidency source who spoke with our correspondent at the weekend said there was sufficient evidence to nail the governor who had been severely implicated in the scandal that trailed the conduct of the June 21, 2014 governorship election.
In the controversial election, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which fielded Fayose as candidate, won the entire 16 local government areas in the state, defeating Kayode Fayemi, the then incumbent who ran on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
President Muhammadu Buhari said last week that the election was characterised by “hanky-panky,” describing it as an unfortunate saga.
He, therefore, called on the leaders of the APC to do everything possible to ensure that they did not allow any subversion of the will of the people again.
While addressing the 33 aspirants who participated in the party’s primaries, Buhari emphasised the need for them to be united.
He said: “This is crucial because I remember the hanky-panky that attended the last gubernatorial election in Ekiti State in 2014.
“I recall the firsthand account I received from some of the dramatis personae in that unfortunate saga.
“We must do everything to ensure that we do not allow any subversion of the will of the people this time around.”
Arrangements were in place to ensure that the probe begins immediately Fayose’s immunity expired – that is, when he had left office.
“The Ekitigate scandal has not been forgotten. It is still very fresh and will soon be reopened. What has delayed it is the immunity enjoyed by the major beneficiary of the scandal; that is, Governor Ayo Fayose.
“Once his tenure expires in October, the Federal Government will begin a full-scale investigation into the matter, and I can assure you that all those found culpable will be brought to justice.”
On allegations that Fayose is planning to flee the country before the handover date, our source said that it was not possible as relevant security agencies in the country would not allow that to happen.
“I don’t think the governor will flee on account of that. On most occasions, he has claimed he has nothing to hide on the Ekitigate issue, so why should he flee?
“Even if he wants to, security agents in the country will do their job. Don’t forget what happened in the case of Dino Melaye when he was stopped at the airport en route Morocco,” he said.
Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), said the probe was inevitable.
Sagay noted that there was nothing the Federal Government could do now since Fayose enjoyed immunity.
He said the probe would begin immediately Fayose’s tenure ends.
According to him, both Fayose and everybody involved in the scandal, if found guilty, would be made to face the music.
“It is inevitable. They couldn’t have done much when Fayose is still governor, because he is free.
“He has immunity, but the money involved is so much – over N4.7 billion brought by Obanikoro, according to the story.
“We also have the evidence of the young captain and the Brigadier-General who was in the centre of it all.
“That is not a story one can sleep over. As soon as his immunity ends, he has to face the trial and consequences of his action. Not only him; everybody involved has to be brought to justice.”
After the results of the Ekiti governorship election was released and Fayose was declared the winner, there were allegations that the army personnel deployed in the state, led by Brig. Gen. Aliyu Momoh, played active roles in an alleged rigging of the poll.
An officer of the Nigerian army, Capt. Sagir Koli, who participated in the supervision of the poll, had leaked an audio recording of a meeting where the alleged rigging was hatched.
The recording had reportedly featured Fayose, Momoh, former Minister of State for Defence, Musliu Obanikoro; former Minister of Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan, and former PDP governorship candidate in Osun State, Iyiola Omisore, among others.
Momoh has since been retired from the army while Koli was reabsorbed.
Efforts to reach the Ekiti State government proved abortive as calls and text messages sent to Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose’s media aide, were not answered.