Nigerian speaker Dimeji Bankole arrested for 'fraud'

House of Representatives speaker Dimeji Bankole (l) file photo
Image caption Officials say Dimeji Bankole was planning to flee the country

One of Nigeria's most powerful politicians has been arrested by anti-corruption police.

Outgoing House of Representatives speaker Dimeji Bankole was held over allegations he misappropriated tens of millions of dollars of government funds - charges he has denied.

He was held after a four-hour stand-off at his home in the capital, Abuja.

President Goodluck Jonathan was sworn into office a week ago promising to tackle Nigeria's endemic corruption.

Analysts say this case will be seen as a test of his commitment to fulfilling that pledge, as Mr Bankole is seen as a close ally of the president.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher says Mr Bankole's arrest comes as no great surprise after weeks of speculation in local newspapers that he would be detained.

A spokesman for Nigeria's anti-corruption body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said it had received information that Mr Bankole was planning to flee the country.

Along with all other lawmakers, Mr Bankole's term of office expired on Friday - a new parliament is being sworn in on Monday.

He lost his seat in April's elections.

An EFCC statement said Mr Bankole was wanted for questioning over a series of allegations.

It is alleged that Mr Bankole secured a 10bn naira ($65m; £40m) loan, which was then shared out among senior figures in parliament.

Mr Bankole has acknowledged that the loan exists but says he did not gain personally.

Mr Bankole's spokesman, Idowu Bakare, has denied that Mr Bankole was planning to leave the country or had resisted arrest, reports the AP news agency.

Thanks to oil money and a complete lack of restraint, being a politician in Nigeria is lucrative work, our correspondent says.

Many take home pay packets in excess of $1m (£600,000) a year.

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