Nigerian anti-corruption officials have raided a meeting of opposition leaders and arrested Attahiru Bafarawa, who ran for president in 2007. The EFCC accuses him of involvement in a 6bn naira ($40m) fraud from his time as governor of Sokoto State. Also at the meeting was another former presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari, and ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.
At the time of his arrest he was in a meeting trying to form an opposition party for an election due in 2011. His allies have accused the authorities of trying to scuttle their plans to unite against the ruling party. Opposition groups have accused the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) of being a tool for the government to silence its critics.
But the EFCC argues that it has a good record – securing dozens of convictions and recovering billions of dollars.
The immediate past Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa was arrested at a meeting of leading opposition leaders in Abuja yesterday where erstwhile Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari called for strict constitutionalism in the event of a presidential succession.
The opposition group which has Buhari, Bafarawa and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar as principal conveners at the end of their meeting pledged to transform their group, the National Democratic Movement, into a political party next February.
A 24- man steering committee including immediate past Governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke was named to steer the affairs of the organisation.
Yesterday’s meeting was the second open formal session of the NDM and was like the first meeting last October graced by Buhari, Atiku and Bafarawa.
Other dignitaries at the meeting included former Minister of the FCT, Lt. Gen. Jerry Useni, deputy Senate minority leader, Senator Olurunnimbe Mamora, his predecessor, Senator Daniel Saror, Senator Sulieman Nazif (AC, Bauchi North), Senator Lawali Shuaibu, former Information Minister and journalist Mr. Tony Momoh, Alhaji Lawal Kaita, Prof. Musa Yakubu (SAN), Dr. Usman Bugaje, Alhaji Sule Hamman, Alhaji Yusuf Alli, Chief Tom Ikimi among others.
The meeting, however, ended on a blight note for Bafarawa as he was picked up by agents of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) immediately he stepped outside the venue of the meeting in Abuja.
As he stepped out of the venue of the meeting about 10 gentlemen dressed in suits who had all along mixed with newsmen at the venue surrounded the former Governor. A letter of invitation by the commission was then thrust in his face as the agents requested him to follow them.
The action immediately sparked protests among the people who attended the meeting but it was quickly put down by Bafarawa who gave his readiness to voluntarily comply with the order.