The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested Mr. Austin Umahi, the brother of the Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, for his alleged role in the N23bn ($115m) allegedly disbursed by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The EFCC also arrested two others – Chinyere Egwuche and Mabel Dikibo –who were associates of Austin.
The EFCC said the suspects received N400m from Diezani through Senator Nenadi Usman who was the Director of Finance of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation.
The money, believed to have been part of the missing oil funds, was said to have been used in bribing some officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission during the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.
A source at the EFCC said, “On Monday August 29, 2016, we arrested one Austin Umahi, a brother to the current governor of Ebonyi State along with two others: Chinyere Egwuche and Mabel Dikibo over a N400m slush fund linked to the 2015 presidential campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party.
“The suspects, all employees of Brass Engineering & Construction Nigeria Limited and Osborn La-Palm Royal Resort, were arrested, following their refusal to collect and honour invitation by the EFCC, for questioning in an ongoing investigation involving both companies.
“While Austin Umahi doubles as the chairman of both companies, Chinyere Egwuche and Marbel Dikibo are also signatories to the companies’ accounts.
“The N400m was released by the Director of Finance, PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Senator Nenadi Usman, to the PDP Ebonyi State, for the 2015 presidential election, but the said fund was moved from Fidelity Bank, Abakaliki where it was initially deposited on March 27, 2015, to an Access Bank Abakaliki account, where one Maxwell Umahi further moved N100m and N300m respectively into the accounts of Brass Engineering and Construction Nigeria Limited and Osborn La-Palm Royal Resort respectively”
The anti-graft agency said one of the suspects, Egwuche, subsequently withdrew the N300m paid into the account of Osborn La-Palm, which according to her was used to finance further construction of Osborn La-Palm Hotels in Abakaliki, Uburu and Port Harcourt, while the N100m paid into the account of Brass Engineering and Construction Nigeria Limited was transferred to a certain David Umahi Faith Foundation.
“Though investigation is still ongoing, the above mentioned companies have been traced to the Ebonyi State Governor,” the EFCC added.
In his response, the spokesman for the governor, Mr. Emma Anya, denied that the governor’s brother was in the EFCC custody. He also absolved the governor of blame.
Anya said, “Mr. Austin will respond accordingly on a later date. However, as I speak with you, he is currently in Port Harcourt and not in the custody of the EFCC.
“The governor divested his interests in the companies as required by law and thus committed no crime.”