By Igoniko Oduma, Yenagoa
The re-arraignment of former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, last week on a fresh 50-count charge of corruption by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been lauded as a good development.
This was the position of Sylva’s former security adviser, Richard Kpodoh, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
The anti-graft agency had on Friday filed the fresh charges against Sylva at the Federal High Court, Abuja, two days after Justice Ahmed Mohammed dismissed one of two fraud cases instituted against the former governor.
According to Mohammed, the case constituted an abuse of court process.
On June 1, 2015, Justice Evoh Chukwu, also of the Federal High Court, Abuja, struck out the other case bordering on the theft and misappropriation of N2.45 billion against Sylva after EFCC’s application for the withdrawal of the matter.
In the fresh 50-count charge filed on Friday, Sylva is being accused alongside Francis Okokuro, Gbenga Balogun, and Samuel Ogbuku.
They were alleged to have used three companies, Marlin Maritime Limited, Eat Catering Services Limited and Haloween-Blue Construction and Logistics Limited, to move about N19.2 billion from Bayelsa State treasury between 2009 and 2012, under the guise of using the funds to augment salaries of the government workers in the state.
Kpodoh, who spoke with journalists in Yenagoa at the weekend, described the fresh charges slammed on Sylva as a step in the right direction.
He said those who are thinking that President Muhmmadu Buhari would manipulate the judicial process to favour Sylva because he represented the APC as co-chairman of the presidential inauguration committee would be disappointed.
“When Sylva was discharged the first time, everybody said he was let off the EFCC hook because he is Buhari’s man. But I know that Buhari will not indulge in the corrupt practice of covering someone who has corruption cases to answer”, he said.
Kpodoh also advised the President not to shield Sylva from prosecution, as any such attempt would damage his image and that of his administration.
He former security adviser, who was the interim chairman of the defunct ‘New’ Peoples Democratic Party in Bayelsa before joining the APC, cautioned the party not to field Sylva in the upcoming governorship election in the state.
He said the APC would lose the election if it picked Sylva for the office of governor, because the former governor failed abysmally in his first tenure in office.
Kpodoh said, “Buhari should steer clear of Sylva. If he backs Sylva in his corruption cases, it will affect him. How can one man who commited N19 billion fraud be close to Buhari?
“Look at us in Bayelsa. Yenagoa, the state capital, is a slum. There are no roads. There is no development and one man is being accused of stealing N19 billion, and the court (wants to) throw that case out without trial? That is wrong.”
Kpodoh also said the court and the EFCC should be given free rein to try Sylva and sentence him to prison, if he was found guilty.
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