The 17th day of March 2022, a Thursday was historic in the political life of Anambra State as the immediate Governor of the state, Willie Obiano, exited office and handed over to his successor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo.
The inauguration started in a dramatic manner with a faceoff between Obiano’s wife, Ebelechukwu, and Bianca Ojukwu, widow of the late Biafra fighter, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, at the event.
The day ended more dramatically as Obiano was picked up at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission while he was reportedly on his way to the United States.
Although the details of the EFCC’s allegations against Mr Obiano remain shrouded in secrecy, the commission had since last year placed him on its watch list. While the nature of his alleged offence is being awaited, here are some details about the personality of the ex-governor.
Born in Aguleri, a town in Anambra State, Obiano received a bachelor’s degree in Accountancy from the University of Lagos in 1979 and a Master of Business Administration from the same university.
He started his banking career in 1981 at the First Bank of Nigeria before he left to join the services of Chevron Oil Nigeria Plc as an accountant where he rose to the position of Chief Internal Auditor.
In 1989, he participated in the auditing of Texaco Refinery in Rotterdam, Netherlands. In 1991, he joined the Fidelity Bank as Deputy Manager and head of audit unit and rose to the position of Executive Director in October 2003.
Obiano left the banking industry for partisan politics and in 2013 contested the Anambra State gubernatorial elections on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA.
He won the election and was sworn in on 17 March 2014 to succeed Peter Obi. On 18 November 2017, he was re-elected as Governor. His tenure ended on the 16 March 2022.
In late November 2021, shortly after Soludo was elected as Obiano’s successor, it emerged that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had placed Obiano on a watchlist. Obiano had flown abroad earlier in November.
But reacting to the EFCC’s move, the Anambra Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Don Adinuba, stated that the EFCC had gone to a “new low” by releasing the letter placing Obiano on the list. Adinuba also claimed that it was well-known that Obiano was planning on moving to his residence in the United States after leaving office.
Although the EFCC did not state the reason for the watchlist placement, speculation about potential investigations in alleged corruption led journalists to investigate the finances of the Obiano administration.
Asked why Obiano’s alleged offence was not disclosed even after he had been arrested, the EFCC spokesperson, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, had told Daily Trust earlier today that it’s not time for the commission to do so.
He had said, “We are not giving that (the offence) out at the moment. The matter is still under investigation. It is also not correct that he has been released. He is with the commission.”
Uwujaren was evasive when asked when Obiano would be released, saying, “Once he is released, you will get the information.”
The agency had probed several former governors for one financial misappropriation or another. Obiano, who has spent a day in EFCC custody, joined the long list on Thursday, becoming the latest in the pack.