Fact Check

FactCheck: Did EFCC Declare Fubara, River State Governor Wanted Recently? 

BY: Mustapha Lawal

Claim 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has recently declared  River State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara for fraud.

Screenshot of the Claim/FactCheckAfrica

Verdict 

Misleading! The claim that EFCC declared the incumbent Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara wanted is a recirculated claim from 2022. 

Full Text

A message circulating on WhatsApp and some blogs claimed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, has declared Fubara Siminayi, the executive governor of Rivers State, wanted. 

While the message has been forwarded many times on WhatsApp, the X (formerly Twitter) version of the post was made by a user with the handle @Possible1001. A copy of the same post was also found on Nairaland forum, where it has sparked controversy and debates among readers of the platform. 

This claim is amidst the ongoing political tension in Rivers State about a growing rift between Governor Siminalayi Fubara and his predecessor, Nyesom Wike, On  May 13, 2024, the governor stated his intention to probe the former governor’s administration, which he was part of. Fubara was a former Accountant-General of Rivers State during the Nyesom Wike-led administration in the state.

Political tension in the state became well known last year after some members of the state legislative arm believed to be loyal to Nyesom Wike, who is now the FCT minister, initiated a plot to remove Governor Fubara from office.

FactCheckAfrica decided to work on this check due to the widespread controversy it sparked. 

Verification 

FactCheckAfrica conducted a keyword search and found that the claim comes  from a 2022 news report with the headline “EFCC declares Rivers Accountant-General, others wanted for N435bn fraud”. 

“Siminayi, and four other Rivers State government officials, among others, are wanted for suspected N117 billion fraud, alleged criminal conspiracy, money laundering, misappropriation of public funds, and abuse of office,” part of the story  reads. 

Further checks by FactCheckAfrica revealed that the governor’s name was part of the 166 names on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)’s wanted list but it is not recent. The FIJ report, featured about 166 people including Siminilayi Fubara, the incumbent Governor of Rivers State; past governors; ex-bankers; Chinese, Italian and Israeli nationals and former Nigerian militant commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta,  Oweizide Ekpemupolo (Tompolo).

According to the outlet, the governor has been declared wanted since September 2018. “The EFCC accused Fubara, then a signatory to the state government, and others of acting as proxies to several government officials who conspired and fraudulently withdrew and diverted N117 billion from the Rivers State treasury between 2015 and 2018. Fubara ran for public office despite his presence on the EFCC’s wanted list,” the FIJ story reads. 

We also found the original notification about the governor’s declaration on the official website of the EFCC.  Fubara has not been tried by the EFCC over the allegation up till when he was sworn in as the governor. He was reported to have evaded arrest from the commission in June 2022.

It is important to note that Section 308 of the Nigerian Constitution grants immunity to sitting governors, which means the Governor is protected for the while his tenure lasts. 

Conclusion 

Misleading! The claim that EFCC declared the incumbent Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara wanted is a recirculated claim from 2022. The  EFCC has not issued any new press release regarding Fubara’s alleged involvement in any criminal activity since 2022. 

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