The fear of being arrested for corruption by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission may have forced the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan into “temporary” exile in Cote d’Ivoire, Thisday newspaper reported.
According to the newspaper, several sources close to Jonathan said he sought refuge in Cote d’Ivoire last week following information that he would be picked up by the EFCC on his return from an overseas tour.
The sources added that President Muhammadu Buhari may have decided to use the recent bombing in the Niger Delta as an excuse to renege on his previous promise not to arrest the former leader for alleged corruption under his administration.
The recent bombing by militants in the Niger Delta, Jonathan’s home region, has cost the government the lost of an estimated 800,000-900,000 barrels of crude oil per day (bpd).
Several associates and former aides to Jonathan are already facing trials fraud, money laundering, diversion of public funds and contract scams.
In recent weeks, the EFCC has arrested Jonathan’s cousin, Aziobola Robert, in connection with a $40 million pipeline surveillance contract, and his former principal secretary and confidant, Hassan Tukur.
These arrests were said to have shaken the former president, given that they were the two persons closest to him during his presidency.
According to THISDAY, top security sources warned Jonathan on the plan to arrest him on his arrival into the country, hence his decision to seek exile in Cote d’Ivoire.
On getting wind of the plan, Jonathan is alleged to have contacted a few West African leaders including the President of Cote d’Iviore, Mr Alassane Outtara, who offered him a safe haven until all matters are resolved.
Sources close to the ex-president told Thisday that the recent increase in the activities of militants in the region was a reaction to the news of the plan to arrest Jonathan.
“Perhaps the only installations that may not be affected in the interim by militant attacks are those in the deep offshore basin because they are more difficult to reach and would require large vessels to access,” said the source who, however, added that “during the last militant crises we went as far as shutting down the Bonga deep water oil field”.