March 4, 2009 / 8:07 PM / in 9 years

Nigeria arrests ex-governor over corruption

ABUJA, March 4 (Reuters) - Nigeria’s anti-corruption police arrested the former governor of southwest Ondo state who is under investigation for the misappropriation of 25 billion naira ($170 million), an agency spokesman said on Wednesday.

Olusegun Agagu, who served as power minister and later as governor under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, was removed from office in late February after an appeals court voided his re-election in April 2007.

“I can confirm that he was arrested today. He’s with us in Abuja,” said Femi Babafemi, spokesman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

An EFCC source said Agagu was arrested a day before he was due to travel overseas. “He was billed to travel to Australia via London tomorrow so we had to pick him up, seizing his travelling documents to prevent his escape,” he said.

President Umaru Yar‘Adua came to power over a year ago pledging zero tolerance for corruption in one of the world’s most tainted countries, but faces questions over his commitment to the campaign.

Critics say the EFCC needs to make more prosecutions, not just arrests of members of the former administration.

Ten ex-governors who served under Obasanjo have faced corruption charges but only one has been convicted.

Nigeria’s 36 state governors wield considerable financial and political power in Africa’s top oil producer, in some cases running budgets larger than neighbouring countries. They also enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution while in office.

Agagu lost his governorship on Feb 23 after a court of appeals declared his rival, Olusegun Mimiko, the rightful winner of the 2007 election. The court ordered Mimiko be immediately sworn in as governor of Nigeria’s top cocoa growing state. (Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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