The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) received a major boost on Tuesday as some youths in Bayelsa State demonstrated in support of the agency after it arrested and detained a former top official of the the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. George Turnah.
Turnah was arrested in neighboring Port Harcourt, Rivers State in March this year by the anti-graft agency on alleged possession of N2billion suspected to be funds stolen from the NDDC while serving in the commission between 2012 and 2015.
SaharaReporters learned that Turnah, who was special adviser on youth affairs to former managing director of the NDDC, Mr. Bassey Dan Abia, is also a crony of former president Goodluck Jonathan.
The protest started from the Popular Ekeki Park in the state capital Yenagoa after which it moved to the deserted State House of Assembly and the state Police Command Headquarters where the youth said their action had been motivated by reports they read in the media of funds allegedly diverted by Turnah.
Armed with placards bearing inscriptions as “We thank the EFCC for exposing corrupt persons”, “Enemies of Niger Delta exposed”, “Well done, EFCC” and “George Turnah impoverished Bayelsa State”, the protesting youth said Bayelsa State had been deprived of development by greedy officials for several years.
Coordinators of the youth group known as Concerned Citizens of Bayelsa State, Chief Harrow Zuokomor and Comrade Abule Bethel, said the state was still in shock at the magnitude of the fund seized from Turnah, adding that some parts of the state would have benefited from projects to be executed with the fund.
“We support the efforts of the EFCC in recovering stolen funds and at the same time we want the fund returned to the state for development purposes,” Zuokomor, who submitted the group’s petition to the Bayelsa State Police Commissioner, Mr. Asuquo Amba, said, stressing that his group could no longer look the other way as corrupt political appointees impoverished the state.
The commissioner, however, assured the demonstrators that their complaints would be channeled to the appropriate authorities while commending their peaceful protest.
SaharaReporters gathered that the 34-year-old Turnah is facing trial at a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt on a 12-count charge of obtaining money by false pretense, money laundering and abuse of office, among others.