How Buhari Jailed Former Imo Governor Chief Sam Mbakwe After Almost N1 Million Naira Was Discovered At His Residence In 1984

Samuel “Sam” Onunaka Mbakwe was a politician and one of the most prominent names in Nigeria’s southeast populated mainly by the Igbos. From the 1st of October 1979 till the 31st of December 1983 when his second term was truncated by the Muhammadu Buhari-led coup, Mbakwe reigned as the governor of Imo State. However, what was to follow the overthrow was going to be some of the saddest chapters of Mbakwe’s life.

   On the 3rd of February, 1984, news broke out across Nigeria that the total sum of N899,980 was recovered from the residence of ex-Governor of Imo State, Chief Samuel Mbakwe. This announcement was made by the Federal Military Government when the Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon who said in his maiden briefing with media executives that almost one million naira cash was recovered at the residence of the Mbakwes.

Mrs. Mbakwe

Another statement signed by Mallam Waida Maida, the Chief Press Secretary to the Head of State said in Lagos that Mrs. Victoria Mbakwe, wife of the former governor withdrew almost one million naira according to her as follows:

  • UBA Aba, January 4,1984, over N600,000
  • ACB Owerri, January 5, 1984, N250,000

Sam Mbakwe

Maida also said when the residence of the Mbakwes was searched on the 7th of January, 1984, the sum of N773,500 was recovered from Mrs. Victoria Mbakwe while N126,480 was recovered from the husband, Chief Sam Mbakwe. He went further and said the total sum recovered from both of them amounted to N899,980 and that both sums were paid by the NSO into a suspense account at ACB Owerri. The story got more interesting when the wife, Victoria Mbakwe denied the allegation that over N1 million was found in their residence. In a phone press statement, she said that only N126,480 was found in their residence when the search was conducted by the security officials.

 Whatever the case, Mbakwe was later hauled off to prison alongside many other politicians. In September 1995, Mbakwe remembered the experience and said of politicians:  

“If you have not been in prison before, that will be your baptism and qualification. You will learn from the prison yard that not all those in detention are criminals.”

Mbakwe remains a venerated figure in southeastern politics. He died on the 6th of January, 2004 at Avutu at Obowo Local Government in Imo State after seeking treatment in Germany, paid for by the Imo State government, he was 73. The Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport located in Owerri is named after him.



  1. Sam Mbakwe
  2. N900,000 Recovered From Mbakwe – Chief Press Secretary, The Nigerian Observer, February 3, 1984, page 10.
Facebook Comments

You may also like...