Senator Shehu Sani has accused the Federal Government of attempting to silence him over his criticism of the Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) regime.
But the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said the embattled former lawmaker had a case to answer for alleged involvement in extortion and name-dropping.
Sani, who alleged that he had been framed, insisted that “criminalising me or framing me will not silence me”.
The People’s Redemption Party chieftain was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission December 31, 2019, for allegedly using the name of the acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, to extort money from members of the public.
He was said to have demanded $20,000 from the owner of ASD Motors, Alhaji Sani Dauda, to help him influence cases at the EFCC and Supreme Court. Dauda petitioned the EFCC after the allegedly gave Sani $10,000.
The human rights activist, who represented Kaduna Central in the Senate from 2015 to 2019, was also said to have demanded N4m from Dauda to bribe the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Muhammad Tanko, and four other judges to influence the Supreme Court to rule in his favour.
However, the CJN has since denied the allegation.
The anti-corruption body on Wednesday searched two homes and an office in Abuja belonging to the ex-lawmaker as part of the probe of the allegation of extortion levelled against him.
But in a statement on Friday, Sani claimed the government was using his accuser through the EFCC to frame him.
Speaking for the first time on the extortion allegation, the politician, a fiery critic of the government, maintained his innocence.
In his statement to our correspondent via WhatsApp, Sani said, “The allegation of ‘extortion’ against me is baseless, fact-less, unfounded, hollow and unsubstantial.”
“It is a scripted stream of mischievous concoctions and utter fabrications, using a puppet state agent, all aimed at splashing faeces and mud on me.”
“The extortion allegation is nothing but a wholesale falsehood, packaged in a phantom anti-graft facade to taint, stain and mute me. That shall never happen if I am alive.”
“I have made my statement and provided all my facts against their package of lies and I demand the EFCC to make public all the sheets of our statements and supporting documents for the world to see.”
“My detention is unfair, unjust, pre-arranged and politically motivated.”
He added, “Alhaji Sani Dauda and his hidden sponsors have not been able to provide any proof of their allegations.”
“Fascism thrives in the frame-up of its critics.”
“They claim extortion and here they are closing my bank accounts, searching my houses and offices and demanding I declare my assets, of which I did at the CCB (Code of Conduct Bureau) last year, when I left the Senate.”
“Frame-up cannot silence me!”
Meanwhile, acting EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade, explained in a statement in Abuja on Friday, that Sani is currently facing criminal investigation, and is being detained ”in a very conducive environment based on a valid court order.”
The commission dismissed insinuations that Sani was held for being a critic of the President, stressing that those defending the ex-lawmaker were not conversant with his alleged crime.