Palpable tension has gripped Delta state as close political associates and top aides to Delta state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, are said to be currently on the list of persons to be arrested by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), SaharaReporters has learnt.
SaharaReporters gathered that the planned arrest which is said to be connected to the forthcoming 2023 governorship election is allegedly being orchestrated by two Delta state senators of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), in a bid to instill fear into the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members and weaken the party ahead of the general elections.
It was also learnt that some government officials have already been invited by the EFCC and ICPC for questioning for alleged fraud and misappropriation of public funds.
Speaking to SaharaReporters, a senior police officer in the Department of Criminal Investigation, Delta State Command who spoke on condition of anonymity, revealed that in the coming weeks, political associates and top senior aides to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa shall be guests of the EFCC and ICPC.
The senior police officer disclosed that everything boils down to the 2023 governorship election.
He also revealed that the plan was allegedly being orchestrated by two top influential members of the APC in the state.
The security officer, "The number one target for this game plan is Okowa's very long-time aide and youths mobiliser. He works with Okowa directly in his office in Government House, Asaba. The aide has been with the governor right from when Okowa was a commissioner, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Senator, and up till now that he is the state governor.
"The aide is very popular, influential and number one strong man of Okowa. He is always with the governor, whether thick or thin. As I talk to you now, the list is ready for action but I can confirm to you authoritatively that the governor's long-time aide and youth mobiliser is the number one person on the list to be picked up. As I told you, there are other close political associates and aides to the governor that will be picked up too. It's going to be a serious battle in the state."
A former House of Representatives' member and current political aide to Okowa, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the planned arrest, saying the first target is one of the long time serving aides to the governor.
"Yes, the story is very correct. In fact, put your ears to the ground and the first target is one of the trusted long-time aides to the governor, he's a principal aide to the governor. Some other aides and political associates of the governor are also penned down and will be guests of the EFCC and ICPC. This is not new anyway, desperate politicians use anti-graft as a witch-hunt to intimidate their opponents.
"The 2023 political chess game has started. I can confirm to you authoritatively with the intelligence before us that an APC serving senator and a senator who recently defected from the PDP to the APC are those behind this whole game. They have perfected all the plans, they have connived with the EFCC and ICPC to begin the clampdown on close associates and aides of the governor, because the APC senator vowed to be the next governor of Delta state come 2023, at all cost.
"One of the senators forgot that in the past, he also held several political positions in Delta state. He was an executive assistant, commissioner, and SSG before becoming a senator. Don't throw stones while living in a glasshouse. They plan to get at Governor Okowa by using anti-graft agencies to intimate and harass the governor's political associates and aides. We are watching him and his cohorts and time shall tell."
Also speaking on the issue, an executive member of the state chapter of the PDP, with knowledge of the issue, disclosed that: "The issue is no longer a secret because some of these aides and close associates of the governor have been officially communicated to. In fact, in one of our recent meetings, it was deliberated. Former and serving commissioners, political associates, and aides of the governor have their names penned down.
"Especially, one of the principal aides to the governor, who is very close to the governor and good at mobilising the youths is among them. The sponsors of this plan are two APC senators. Because of the 2023 governorship election and for fear of the unknown, they have decided to use the EFCC and ICPC to intimidate and harass the opposition. You can't kill the people for you to become a governor. We are fully ready for them."
SaharaReporters gathered at the time of filing this report that invitations had been officially sent to the principal aide to the governor and few others by the anti-graft agencies.
Contacted for comments, the state commissioner for information, Charles Aniagwu, simply said in a text message, "Sorry, I can't talk right now."
However, an executive assistant to the governor and member of the state executive council, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the story to our correspondent, saying, the battle will not be easy for the APC senators in the state.
"Yes, the issue is true, even some of the concerned government officials have been sent official invitations. It's a fact, I can authoritatively confirm to you and with intelligence before us, Delta state senator, a principal officer, and another senator who recently dumped the PDP for the APC are those behind the underground EFCC and ICPC intimidation and harassment.
"But, we are very ready for them. Don't forget that before the senator left the PDP for the APC, he consistently attacked the governor verbally in the media and even vowed to come for the governor and his people. The senator has the mindset that the governor and his people were behind his corruption cases with the EFCC and ICPC as such, he will team up with the other senator, who wants to be the governor of Delta state to retaliate. They have just stepped on the tiger's tail."