IMMEDIATE past Minister of Women Affairs Pauline Tallen has said she was not officially invited or quizzed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), as she visited the anti-graft agency of her own volition.
In a statement released on Saturday, June 3, the ex-Minister said her visit to the EFCC was aimed at clearing certain allegations against her, which she described as false.
“At about 9pm yesterday, news began circulating that I had been arrested by the EFCC. This fake news was carried by several media outlets who were either mischievous or misguided. I would like to state that I went to the EFCC on my own accord to address the very false allegation made against me recently,” Tallen noted.
It was reported that the ex-Women Affairs minister was arrested and questioned by the EFCC in Abuja over allegations of money laundering.
According to a report, a source within the EFCC said Tallen was being investigated for misappropriation and diversion of funds to the tune of N2 billion.
“The ex-minister arrived at our Abuja Zonal Command (not the headquarters), on invitation, at about 12.00 p.m., but she’s still being grilled by investigators of the Commission as at 8:30 p.m.
“She’s being investigated for alleged misappropriation of funds and corrupt enrichment to the tune of N2 billion, and part of the money was allegedly diverted from the African First Lady Peace Mission Project,” the source was quoted as saying.
In the statement, however, Tallen said though allegations of fraud against her had been in the open previously, she refused to address them earlier out of respect for former President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Firstly, the decent and appropriate action, should this have been a genuine enquiry, would be to write to the Ministry for Women Affairs to enquire about any funds sent to the Ministry.
“To immediately jump to the open without any proper formal correspondence is highly unprofessional, portrays a lack of respect for the Ministry of Women Affairs and injurious to my person and character,” Tallen noted.
The ICIR contacted the spokesperson of the EFCC, Wilson Uwajaren, over the issue, but he had not responded to messages at the time of filing this report.
This is the second time within a week that a former minister will visit the EFCC office and come out to deny reports that the development was connected to corruption allegations.
The ICIR reported on Friday, June 2, that a former Ekiti State governor Kayode Fayemi, refuted reports that he is being investigated by the EFCC over an alleged N4 billion fraud.
Fayemi, The ICIR had reported, was questioned at the zonal command office of the EFCC in Kwara State, on Thursday, June 1.
His questioning reportedly followed an earlier invitation extended to him by the anti-graft agency last month to address allegations of money laundering amounting to N4 billion levelled against him.
However, Fayemi, in a statement issued by his spokesperson, Ahmad Sajoh, on Friday, June 2, said the alleged misappropriation of N4 billion was not raised during his discussions with EFCC officials on Thursday.
He claimed that the visit was solely in response to what he described as a frivolous petition from a group aiming to tarnish his reputation.According to him, he was allowed to leave a few hours after he arrived and answered questions at the Commission’s office.
“We wish to note, too, that contrary to the news that made the rounds about a purported N4b fraud case against Dr Fayemi, no such allegation was raised in his conversation with the EFCC.
“All he did was respond to a frivolous petition from a faceless group, the so-called Ekiti Patriotic Coalition, which we strongly believed is a front for some anti-Fayemi politicians, who are trying to soil the former governor’s good name and image,” the statement said.