The whereabouts of Nigeria ‘s former First Daughter, Iyabo Obasanjo, has been making newspaper headlines since she went into hiding earlier this week to escape arrest by operatives of the anti-graft Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Iyabo, a Senator of the federal republic of Nigeria, is being sought by the EFCC for arraignment on corruption charges, after she allegedly collected 10 million naira out of a 300 million naira in unspent budget of the federal ministry of health.
Contrary to the directive of President Umaru Yar’Adua on the return of all unspent funds to the treasury, top officials of the ministry shared the money among themselves and members of the committees on health of the bicameral legislature.
Already, the two Ministers in the ministry, Adenike Grange and Gabriel Aduku, both of whom have been sacked, have been charged to court along with other top officials of the ministry.
But Iyabo, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, has refused to report to the EFCC, which has in turn launched a manhunt for her.
The former First Daughter, who has been linked with several corrupt dealings under her father’s administration, has said the 10 million naira was spent to sponsor her committee on a retreat to Ghana.
After a failed attempt by EFCC operatives to apprehend her last Tuesday, Iyabo went into hiding, prompting her colleagues at the Senate to declare her missing.
That declaration dominated local newspapers Friday.
“Health scam: Senate launches search for Iyabo Obasanjo” (Thisday); “Desperate manhunt for fleeing Iyabo Obasanjo” (The Nation); “Senate seeks Iyabo Obasanjo’s whereabouts” (Punch) and “Senate seeks information on Obasanjo-Bello’s whereabouts” (Guardian).
The Senate has already mandated a member to ‘make contact’ with its fleeing member and report back to the Senate.
In interviews she granted from hiding, Iyabo said she was a victim of harassment and that she is afraid for her life, especially after EFCC operatives raided her residence in the capital city of Abuja.
She believed her travails stemmed from the widespread anti-Obasanjo sentiments in the country.
An increasing number of individuals and groups has been calling for a probe of the eight years of President Olusegun Obasanjo (1999 to 2007), following revelations of alleged corrupt practices by officials of that administration.
Obasanjo set up the EFCC to fight corruption in Nigeria, but critics charged that he only used the anti-graft agency to witch-hunt political opponents.