Breaking: Lawyers petition EFCC, call for arrest, prosecution of Edeoga over 2 billion naira magazine fraud

Casmir Ugwu

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been called by a group of influential lawyers under the aegis of Enugu State Lawyers Anti-Corruption Network to immediately arrest and prosecute Mr. Chijioke Edeoga, the recently sacked Labour Party factional governorship candidate in Enugu State, over an alleged two billion naira fraud perpetrated by him while serving as Commissioner for the Ministries of Local Government and Environment respectively between 2015 and 2022.

In the petition issued in Enugu, the anti-corruption lawyers frowned at the massive looting spree allegedly carried by Edeoga and his cronies using a monthly publicised magazine known as Enugu LGA News.

While insisting that the anti-graft agency should investigate the allegation contained in a trending news report by the Mainstream Investigative Journalism, the legal practitioners expressed concern over what they referred to as, “stealing, thievery, diversion of public funds, conversion of state resources into private pockets”.

In the petition, dated 8 November, 2022, and addressed to the Chairman of the EFCC, the body, mostly made up of senior lawyers and academics, accused Edeoga of corruption, looting, extortion, criminal breach of trust, unlawful enrichment and conversion of over two billion naira while serving as Commissioner for the ministries of Local Government and Environment, stressing that the EFCC must live up to its constitutional duties in order to sustain public trust among the Nigerian citizens.

The petition reads in part: “We, as a group of concerned lawyers and intellectuals, have been partnering in this anti-corruption crusade to rid our country of greedy, heartless and avaricious political elements who are bent on destroying our common heritage through stealing, thievery, diversion of public funds, conversion of state resources into private pockets, using available means as conduit pipes.

“It is on the strength of the above and the provisions of the extant laws that we write to petition the commission to launch an investigation into the mind-blowing, staggering corruption allegations and reckless looting spree that had bestridden the Ministries of Local Government and Environment between 2015 and 2022 in Enugu State which were respectively headed by Mr. Chijioke Edeoga (now a former Commissioner).

“The commission would recall that it was reported over the news some months ago, and the news had recently swept through the Enugu State and the country of how the former commissioner manipulated his relationship with the State Governor, Mr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, to swindle and siphon billions of Naira from the two ministries, particularly coming from the 17 Local Government Areas of the State in a coveted privately owned magazine he presented as a state-owned magazine where local governments were under duress, pressure and intimation to subscribe monthly both in cash and in cheques.

“Reports have had it that the State Government has been frustrating calls from different quarters, mainly aggrieved members of the local government areas, to address the unfortunate financial plundering and pilfering by the former commissioner due to the alleged blood relationship between the Governor and Mr. Edeoga, who are believed to be maternal cousins.

“Mr. Chairman, it is fundamental to draw your attention to the fact that the provisions of the EFCC Establishment Act 2004 gave the commission elaborate power to investigate and prosecute suspects of corruption, embezzlement and looting of public coffers, either using direct means or indirect means or through a proxy. It is therefore, pertinent to order the immediate arrest of Mr. Chijioke Jonathan Edeoga who has inflicted untold pain and hardship on many local government workers and pensioners by putting local government chairmen under compulsion, using the

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