Governor Godwin Obaseki has been asked by the APC to offer an explanation on the whereabouts of Mr. Osaze Ero-Osemwingie, the Edo Commissioner for Arts, Culture, and Tourism who was arrested last year in France in possession of an unexplained two million dollars for money laundering.
The party made this challenge on Wednesday following what it described as the Governor’s quiet replacement of the remanded Commissioner with the swearing-in of Mr. Lawrence Ogieva as the new Commissioner for Arts, Culture, and Diaspora Affairs.
In a statement by Mr. John Mayaki, the Chairman of the APC Media Campaign Council, the party accused Governor Godwin Obaseki of attempting to sweep the scandal under the carpet despite alleged confessions that Mr. Osaze Ero-Osemwingie was running errands for the Governor in Europe before he was arrested by INTERPOL with an unexplained two million dollars.
Mayaki said Governor Godwin Obaseki’s official silence on the matter is suspicious and conspiratorial. He demanded a full explanation of the source of the two million dollars Ero-Osemwingie was caught with and the nature of the errands he was running for the state government before his arrest in Europe.
He added that the swearing-in of the new Commissioners is unknown to law, as they were presented before an illegal Assembly, and demanded that the Ministry of Arts, Culture, and Diaspora Affairs be subjected to a thorough, independent investigation by the EFCC to ascertain the involvement of the state government in the arrested Commissioner’s money laundering scheme and whether the alleged crime was state-sanctioned with the Ministry used as a cover.
The statement read: “At the fall of last year, before the rage of Covid-19 pandemic, Governor Obaseki’s Commissioner for Arts, Culture, and Diaspora Affairs, Osemwingie Ero, left the shores of Nigeria to, according his own words, ‘run errands for the government.’ But for over 9 months now he has not returned having been arrested in France with an unexplained two million dollars and jailed on the charges of money laundering.
“However, in a fresh development, Governor Obaseki on 25th August, illegally swore-in alongside other persons, Lawrence Ogieva as the new Commissioner for Arts, Culture, and Diaspora Affair after months of suspicious and conspiratorial silence as if the image-denting arrest of Osemwingie Ero never occurred.
“This silence and pretense imply that the Government of Edo State, which the jailed commissioner expressly stated he was running errands for, has questions to answer on the two million dollars Commissioner Ero-Osemwingie was arrested with as well as the other pieces of evidence that have emerged on the network of foreign accounts he illegally operates through proxies across Europe.
“Could this be the reason Governor Godwin Obaseki appointed Osemwingie-Ero and quickly promoted him to his kitchen cabinet as one of his closest allies before a mission was aborted in France?
“There are several questions begging for answers and the people of Edo State, and the family of the arrested Commissioner, are by the dictates of the constitution and democracy which compel every election government to be accountable to the people, entitled to hear the answers to the questions from no other person than Mr. Godwin Obaseki himself.
“No responsible and guilt-free government would keep mum while its senior official and one of the Governor’s closest allies remains languishing in a foreign prison over credible allegations of money laundering.
“Attempt to sweep the matter under the carpet, just like all other credible allegations of fraud and corruption established against the Obaseki-led government, will be futile as we will continue to mount pressure on all relevant authorities to uncover details on what could potentially be a state-sanctioned fraud involving the criminal transfer of public funds into private accounts operated abroad.
“In the meantime, we are demanding the nullification of the illegal swearing-in of the new Commissioner and the pending of any such replacement until the completion of a full investigation of the Ministry by the EFCC to determine the extent of the government’s involvement in Osemwingie-Ero’s alleged money laundering and other crimes.”