by Isi Esene
The former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo, who was on Thursday arrested by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been granted administrative bail and instructed to return to the commission yesterday, Friday.
Soludo was arrested in his Abuja home alongside several other senior CBN and NMPCM officials over their alleged involvement in the printing of polymer banknotes contract scam amounting to N750m.
An EFCC source confirmed the release of the former CBN boss saying he was granted bail on certain conditions which he failed to elaborate on.
The source said, “Yes, it is true Soludo was released on bail around 9pm on Thursday but was asked to report back on Friday morning.
“We will continue to invite him for interrogation as the need arises since it is an ongoing investigation,” the official said.
The commission was said to have taken into its possession the renowned economist’s diplomatic and international passport. He was also required to produce two sureties who should not be below the rank of permanent secretaries or directors in the Federal public service.
Soludo has, however, released a statement denying that he was arrested by the EFCC. He explained that he was invited by the commission to make certain clarifications as regards an issue under investigation.
In a statement signed by Bonaventure Melah, Soludo said he was neither arrested nor escorted to EFCC office by operatives of the Commission as was reported.
“We want to put it on records clearly that the media reports that Professor Chukwuma Soludo was arrested by the operatives of the EFCC in Abuja is totally false or to say the least, written in error.
“The fact of the matter is that the EFCC wrote a letter to Prof. Soludo inviting him to their Abuja office on the 10th of January 2013. EFCC’s invitation letter to Prof. Soludo was dated 20th December 2012.
“Prof. Soludo was abroad attending to several international engagements when the letter was sent to his aides. As a law abiding citizen of the country, Prof. Soludo returned to Nigeria in the New Year and honoured EFCC invitation on January 10th as requested. He voluntarily went from his home to EFCC office on Thursday. He was neither arrested nor escorted by any operative of the Commission.”
He continued saying, “The EFCC letter of invitation to Soludo states that ‘This Commission is investigating a case in which the need to obtain certain clarifications from you has become imperative’.
“It was a two-paragraph letter with also indicated date and time for the meeting between Prof. Soludo and officials of the Commission,” the statement added.
A Human Rights group known as Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) had in May 2012, reportedly called on the EFCC to investigate the controversial contract awarded by the former CBN boss for the printing of polymer banknotes.
HEDA had alleged wrongdoing by Soludo and other Nigerian officials in the purported banknote printing and alerted the security agencies to arrest and prosecute all those involved in the multi-million Naira scam.
Soludo, a former president and some finance ministry officials were mentioned by the group as the beneficiaries of the graft.