The whereabouts of run-away former Governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva is still shrouded in top secrecy, this we can authoritatively reveal. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the State Security Services (SSS) according to impeccable sources have intensified the search for the location of Timipre Sylva. The SSS, we gathered renewed its hunt for Sylva following a tip-off that he was sighted in a hideout located near the Island of Bonny in Rivers State. This office learnt that a security team consisting of SSS and EFCC officials have in recent weeks embarked on reconnaissance visit to the creeks and Islands located in Bayelsa and Rivers State with a view to possibly swoop on Sylva in his hideout. Acting on a tip off, the security team was said to have discreetly visited some reserved areas in Port Harcourt and sailing in Merchant Navy Boat, visited certain Islands in Rivers and Bayelsa States. Sylva's identified properties in Abuja, Port Harcourt and those scattered in Yenagoa were thoroughly searched in order for the security agents to know if he is hiding in any of such places. The security team also visited his residence in the village where some vital documents were taken away. However, another intelligence source disclosed that the security operatives have contacted International Police (Interpol) in several European countries to help track the fugitive former governor who is wanted in Nigeria to answer corruption charges. During his four year reign, Sylva was said to have invested millions of dollars in acquiring exquisite properties in United States and other European countries. He was also alleged to own properties in South Africa including business which is being run by surrogate owners. Sources insist that Sylva has fled to the country of Venezuela. One of our intelligence sources said that the security agencies closely monitored Sylva before the last governorship election until he maneuvered himself out of their scrutiny. “They had placed him on surveillance as soon as it was certain that he won't be contesting for the governorship position again, “they monitored his movements from the State House in Yenagoa to his activities outside the state, but I think he was a little smart, he knew he was likely to be arrested after his exit from office, so, he found a way to disappear to South Africa,” the source said, adding: “Some said he is still hiding somewhere in the Riverine areas while a contradictory information claimed he had sneaked out of the country and is now hiding in one of his properties in South Africa or the one in an Island in Europe”. But he can run, he cannot hide forever, let him ask James Ibori.” he concluded.
Meanwhile it was exclusively disclosed that President Goodluck Jonathan was unhappy about the Timipre Sylva's escape saga; he was worried about the security implication of allowing another high profile suspect to escape prosecution for corruption.“The President is concerned that we may have another fugitive offender- James Ibori in our hands. The present situation may imply that our security network is porous and the international community may also have the feeling that we treat those accused of corruption in high places with levity. The president raised the issue of former Governor Sylva's whereabouts with the Inspector-General of Police asking to know how it was possible for him to beat the Police, EFCC surveillance and escape.” Aso Rock sources said that at the height of EFCC initial attempt to arrest him, Sylva tried to reach out to President Jonathan to appeal to him to temper justice with mercy all to no avail. “It was obvious that Sylva did not totally expect what came to him. He thought that the federal government will feel satisfied that he has been denied of a second term in office. But it appears that the FG is fighting to finish. The FG is of the opinion that Sylva must be made to pay for his alleged corrupt practices,” the source said, adding: “I think some prominent indigenes of Rivers and Bayelsa States tried to intervene on Sylva's behalf but the president responded that it is a criminal matter and that he doesn't want to be seen to obstruct the course of justice even as he would want to avoid the accusation of ethnicism, because Sylva is his kinsman. He concluded that the EFCC had the corruption case against Sylva before the last Bayelsa State election.”
Sources said that last minute effort by E. K. Clark to reconcile the President with Sylva proved abortive. The feud between President Goodluck Jonathan and Timipre Sylva took an ugly turn when Jonathan said that the former governor was once stoned on the street for non-performance. Therefore, it was pertinent to save him and the Peoples Democratic Party the odium of such embarrassment by making sure a credible leader is elected in the state. The President's remark thoroughly infuriated Sylva who criticized his indiscretion and proceeded to make reference to the alleged incident when the President's residence was set ablaze by some aggrieved citizens of the state.
Wife goes low-key
Since the alleged escape of her husband, the former First Lady of Bayelsa State, Alayinji Sylva, and her children are said to have been living quietly in Sylva's personal residence in Yenagoa, though they occasionally visit their other residence in Abuja. Sources said that it appears members of Sylva's immediate family has been debarred from travelling overseas while their movement within the country is being monitored so as to know if a link will be established with the wanted former governor. The EFCC alleged that Sylva defrauded Bayelsa State to the tune of N7 billion within the four years of his tenure in office. According to the six-count charges filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, in Suit NO.: FHC/ABJ/CR/23/2012 under violation of the Money Laundering Act, Sylva was accused of converting properties and resources amounting to N2,000,000,000.00 (two billion Naira) belonging to Bayelsa State Government and derived from an illegal act, with the aim of concealing the illicit origin of the said amount.
Count 2: “That you, Timipre Sylva, as Governor of Bayelsa State, with others now at large, on or about the 22nd of January 2010, at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, converted the sum of N380,000,000.00 (Three hundred and eighty million Naira), property of the Bayelsa State Government, through the account of one Habibu Sani Maigida, a Bureau De Change operator with account no.: 221433478108, in Fin Bank, which sum you knew represented the proceeds of an illegal act with the aim of concealing the nature of the proceeds of the said illegal act.
Count 3: “That you, Timipre Sylva as Governor of Bayelsa State, with others now at large on or about the 5th of February, 2010, at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, converted the sum of N50,000,000.00 (Fifty million Naira) property of the Bayelsa State Government, through the account of one Enson Benmerhinted with account no.: 6152030001946 in First Bank Plc, which sum you know represented the proceeds of the said illegal act with the aim of concealing the nature of the proceeds of the said illegal act.
Count 4: “That you, Timipre Sylva, as Governor of Bayelsa State, with others now at large, on or about the 5th of February, 2010, at Abuja within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, converted the sum of N20,000,000.00 (Twenty million Naira) property of the Bayelsa State Governor, through the account of one John Dankoru with account No.: 04800250000418, in United Bank of Africa which sum you know represent the proceed of an illegal act with the aim of concealing the native of the proceeds of the said illegal act.
Count 5: “That you, Timipre Sylva, as Governor of Bayelsa State with others now at large, sometime between October, 2009 and February, 2010, at various places in Nigeria, including Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court did conspire to commit a crime to wit: Including Union Bank Plc, with the intent to defraud, to deliver to Bayelsa State Government the sum of N2,000,000,000.00 (Two billion Naira), under the false pretence of using the amount to augment salaries of the Bayelsa State Government and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 8(a) and punishable under Section 1(3) of the advance fee fraud and other fraud related offences Act 2004.”
Count 6: “That you, Timipre Sylva, as Governor of Bayelsa State, with others now at large, sometime between October, 2009 and February, 2010, at various places in Nigeria including Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court induced Union Bank Plc, with the intent to defraud, to grant an overdraft facility of the sum of N2,000,000,000.00 (Two billion Naira) to Bayelsa State Government under the false pretence of using the amount to augment salaries of the Bayelsa State Government and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section (1)(1)b of the advance fee fraud and other fraud retailed offences Act, 2004.
Sources also disclosed that Sylva has not given up his attempt to convince Jonathan to offer him a safe landing. Recently, he allegedly sent one of their mutual friends, an Ijaw from a Niger Delta State to appeal to the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, to talk to her husband on his behalf, but the First Lady was said to have declined such request on the ground that the matter is already in court. As Nigerians await the formal sentence to be pronounced on self-confessed offender James Ibori, it seems another former governor from the South South is set to break Ibori’s criminal record.