The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested a wanted former governor of Jigawa State, Saminu Turaki, The PUNCH has learnt.
The former governor was arrested at the public presentation of a book titled, ‘The First Regular Combatant: Brigadier General Zakariya Maimalari,’ which was written by Haruna Poloma at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
Turaki is standing trial for allegedly stealing N36bn when he was governor of the state from 1999 to 2007.
Turaki had also been accused in court of using N12bn out of the N36bn to fund former President Obasanjo’s failed third term bid in 2006.
Last year, operatives of the EFCC went to his house in a bid to execute an arrest warrant for the former governor who had failed to present himself for trial since 2011 when he was arraigned on 36 counts at the Federal High Court in Dutse, Jigawa State.
The court had issued a warrant directing the Inspector-General of Police or his officers and the EFCC to arrest Turaki and bring him before the court.
Justice S. Yahuza gave the order after Turaki failed to appear before the court. The EFCC had previously declared him wanted.
A source said Turaki, who was also a member of the Senate from 2007 to 2011, had been on the watch list of the EFCC for several months but had continued to evade arrest.
He was first arraigned by the EFCC before the Federal Capital Territory High Court in 2007 on 32 counts of misappropriating N36bn while he was governor. The case was later transferred to the Federal High Court, Dutse after he challenged the jurisdiction of the FCT court.
Obasanjo had earlier at the book presentation said the mastermind of the January 1966 coup was not from the Eastern Region but from the West (later Mid-West Region) of Nigeria.
The former President said, “Brigadier Maimalari was one of the officers that were sent in to the field battalion as a company commander. Abu Lagerma was sent in as his second in command and three of us subalterns were in that company.
“We were the Bravo company and we used to call ourselves the best company. We were the first company in the Nigerian Army that was fully and completely ‘Nigerianised.’ As you can see, even then, it was a microcosm of Nigeria.
“The company commander and the second in command were from the North; a subaltern and platoon commander, David Okafor, was from the East. Chukwuma Nzeogwu, also a subaltern, a platoon commander was from Okpanam which was in the West (but later Mid-West) at that time and myself from the West.”
Obasanjo described the coup as one of the worst events in the history of Nigeria, adding that Maimalari would have gone to head and reposition the army if he was not killed.
The former President said military involvement in politics was an aberration and that was why when he returned as a civilian President in 1999, he sacked all military officers who had held political positions.
He said by so doing, the eldest son of the late Maimalari, Lt. Col. Abubakar Maimalari (retd.), who was the military administrator of Jigawa State, was also forced to retire.
Obasanjo added, “Lt. Col Maimalari, are you here? I have no apology but I have explanations. It is because it was necessary to stop the sort of the thing that took the life of your father prematurely that I had to take a decision that all those that had tasted power that they should never had tasted; holding political offices while they were in the army, should be eased out so that we can have an army that will be completely free from such political aberrations and so far, since 1999, we seem to have got it right.
“Let us hope that we continue to get it right and learn the right lessons that Nigeria has had enough bloodshed, Nigeria has made enough sacrifices and Nigeria deserves peace, unity and progress and may the sacrifices of the likes of Brigadier Maimalari be sufficient to give this country peace, development, unity and progress.”