Nigeria anti-corruption agency arrests outgoing House Speaker on fraud allegations

[JURIST] The Nigeria [JURIST news archive] Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) [official website] arrested [press release] outgoing speaker of the House of Representatives Dimeji Bankole Sunday on allegations of fraud. He is believed [AP report] to have secured a USD $ 66 million loan on top of his normal salary. He was arrested in his home in Abuja after a five-hour standoff with authorities. The EFCC said that it had to make the arrest before Bankole was to surrender himself Monday after transitioning out of office because intelligence reports showed that Bankole was plotting to sneak out of the country. He is being held for questioning. He has denied the charges and denied that he was planning to leave the country. Bankole was not re-elected to his office in the April elections and was set to hand over the office to the incoming speaker Monday.

April's elections were marred by violence. Just weeks after the election, International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official websites] announced an investigation [JURIST report] into recent violence following the national elections. The preliminary investigation, a precursor to a formal investigation, comes in the wake of riots that killed over 100 and displaced more than 40,000 [AP report]. Rioting broke out following the election victory [AFP report] of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], from the predominantly Christian south, over Muhammadu Buhari [BBC profile] from the predominantly Muslim north. Previous elections in Nigeria have been marred by violence and fraud [JURIST reports]. The recent elections are the first since the death of former president Umaru Yar'Adua [BBC obituary] in May, which resulted in Jonathan taking power [JURIST report]. In March, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] and the Nigerian Bar Association [association website] called for the Nigerian National Assembly to pass legislation creating a special electoral offenses commission [JURIST report].

 

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