Facts have emerged about how popular Instagram celebrity, Pascal Okechukwu, also known as Cubana Chief Priest, was apprehended by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
On Sunday how the EFCC operatives arrested Mr Okechukwu at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja on Wednesday.
According to sources, who asked not to be named because they did not have permission to speak publicly on the matter, Mr Okechukwu was arrested at the airport while trying to board a flight to Owerri, the Imo State capital.
“We have a popular Instagram socialite in our custody in Abuja. He is known as Cubana Chief Priest. He was arrested on Wednesday, in Abuja on his way to Owerri,” a source told our reporter.
The socialite was last seen in public when he was caught by the camera at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, during a FIFA World Cup qualifier match between Ghana and Nigeria last Tuesday.
Many of his fans who were unaware of his arrest had expressed concerns about his whereabouts due to his days-long silence on Instagram.
His failure to return birthday wishes which kept flowing in on his Instagram page on Saturday had further deepened his fans’ concerns about his whereabouts.
The 41-year-old socialite’s quiet birthday on Saturday is in stark contrast to the extravagant birthday parties he had last year with several well-known celebrities in attendance, and taking to Instagram to do a giveaway of N1m to his followers.
Evading invites for questioning
Multiple sources familiar with the matter informed this newspaper that Mr Okechukwu was trailed and monitored by a team of EFCC detectives at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja on Tuesday.
“Our officers, led by an investigator in charge of the matter, had sent a team to the national stadium in Abuja where he was alongside his friends. His activities were carefully monitored.
“We received information after the football match that Mr Cubana Chief Priest would be flying out of the FCT. We picked him up from there at the airport,” one of the sources said.
Sources disclosed to our reporter that investigators have requested the commission to obtain a warrant to keep Mr Okechuwkwu in detention.
This newspaper learnt that Mr Okechukwu was picked up after allegedly refusing to honour several EFCC invitations.
“We sought a warrant of arrest to keep him (Cubana Chief Priest) in our custody because this is someone who has been refusing to honour our invitations.
“We would keep him here with us to avoid him tampering with evidence and he can as well answer several questions on the evidence we have against him,” a source added.
The spokesperson for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, has yet to respond to the arrest of Mr Okechukwu.
When contacted by our reporter on Sunday, Mr Uwujaren did not immediately respond to several calls and text messages sent to his known phone number.
Although allegations against the socialite were sketchy as of press time, a source disclosed to our reporter that Mr Okechukwu was being interrogated by operatives of the commission over alleged money laundering and tax evasion.
His arrest came months after his associate and long time friend, Obinna Iyiegbu, popularly known as Obi Cubana, was arrested by EFCC operatives over a case of alleged money laundering and tax fraud.
Messrs Okechukwu and Iyiegbu, both socialites, made headlines in July last year when they gathered with friends in Oba village in Anambra State, Nigeria’s South-east, for the burial of Mr Iyiegbu’s late mother.
Obi Cubana’s friends frequently threw wads of naira bills into the air and at him during the burial, amid gift items presented to him in wide-ranging forms.
Clips of the ceremony, which were widely shared on social media, elicited conflicting reactions from Nigerians, with some doubting Mr Cubana’s financial sources and others defending him as “a kind and generous man” who worked hard to achieve success.