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Friday, December 28, 2018

PDP asks Buhari to clarify role in alleged family fraud

• Claim baseless without facts, EFCC petition, say UPE, YCE
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to explain his role over an alleged acquisition of shares worth billions of dollars by his family members.It followed a statement by Phrank Shaibu, a spokesperson for PDP’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in which he had alleged that members of Buhari’s family acquired the assets in Etisalat Nigeria and Keystone Bank.

President Muhammadu Buhari


“President Buhari should perish the thought of going ahead with his re-election campaign without clearing this pertinent issue because it directly borders on his integrity,” the PDP said at a press conference addressed by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja yesterday.

Challenging Buhari to explain how the family members came about the alleged N1.032 trillion acquisition, the party said: “Nigerians are not interested in mere rhetoric or attempts by the presidency to divert public attention from the issue at hand, but demand that Buhari, who hitherto prides himself as Mr. Integrity, squarely addresses these grave issues in person.

“This is not an issue for President Buhari’s aides to howl about in the media. It touches directly on his person, particularly his perception as a symbol of the Talakawa. He must therefore address them on this issue.”

The party urged Nigerians and the entire world “to note that President Buhari’s refusal to personally address this matter means consent.”It said: “We therefore dare President Buhari to put forth a denial on this disclosure by our candidate and we will spare no thoughts in furnishing the public with details of his corrupt activities within and outside Nigeria.

“Our party has full details of how persons related to President Buhari, by consanguinity and affinity, have been paved the way to loot trillions of naira from government agencies for corrupt acquisition of shares in major companies, purchase expensive property within and outside Nigeria, as well as finance their very luxury lifestyles, under Mr. President’s cover.”

It claimed: “No Nigerian has made more money in the last three and half years than relations of President Buhari, many of whom have found themselves controlling stupendous wealth frittered from our economy, yet our President is asking Nigerians to get ready for more hardship in the coming year.”

On the possibility of a push for impeachment, the PDP said: “All the actions of the party and the campaign organisation will be predicated on the explanation of Mr. president. Whatever legislative instrument that are available to the National Assembly when the facts are established, our party will take the right decision.”

Also, in a statement yesterday, the PDP dismissed allegations of corruption against Atiku, saying: “We wish to remind President Buhari, who has been unleashing his aides to attack our presidential candidate, that Atiku Abubakar has never been charged, indicted or convicted for any act of corruption by any competent authority whatsoever.”

The accusation however has elicited varied reactions from Nigerians.The National chairman of the United Progressives Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, noted that while campaign period is usually marked by such allegations and desperate tactics by politicians, “Atiku should first petition EFCC to convince the world that he is serious and not wake up one morning to make allegations. Buhari does not own EFCC. So, he should do the needful.”

But president emeritus of Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, was skeptical government agencies would be able to carry out an unbiased investigation. “My worry is who will investigate it? The present crop of investigators and security institutions see themselves as obligated to the presidency. They’ve always defended the presidency anytime an allegation is made. Again, whom will they report to? All the allegations made against key officers of this administration have ended in a predictable manner.”

A former Director General of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Prof. Elo Amucheazi, didn’t share Uwazuruike’s pessimism. “Let the EFCC and relevant security agencies rise to their duties and save this country,” he said, adding: “It is serious and should be investigated. It should not be treated like other (cases) against serving members of this government.”

A former president of the Ijaw National Congress, Prof. Kimse Okoko, and President of Ijaw Youth Council Eric Omare both agreed that while no law forbids the president’s family from venturing into business, undue influence in the acquisition of assets should be investigated.The national chairman of the National Action Congress (NAC), Dr Olapade Agoro, was more assertive, threatening he would sue Etisalat and Keystone Bank if they fail to publicise a list of their shareholders within two weeks.

“All we heard before was that Atiku owned the two corporate outfits in question. For Atiku to (accuse) Buhari of their ownership is a serious matter. I don’t believe in any investigation because agencies that will conduct the investigation have been compromised.“Where is the integrity and anti-graft war of this administration if his family could acquire such billions of naira to own such shares? There is no way we can have free and fair elections in 2019 with such war chest in one family. I am sad and I think Nigerians should do more in getting to know how they got such a huge amount,” he said.

The General Secretary of Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr Kunle Olajide, said the matter remained a speculation, challenging Atiku to come up with convincing facts. The allegation is weighty and cannot be swept under the carpet, he said, anticipating a prompt response from the Buhari campaign organisation.But a former Minister of Information and a founding member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Prince Tony Momoh, said the onus of investigation was on the media. “It is my opinion that the media should carry out an appropriate investigation to know the truth and not necessarily spreading rumour,” he told The Guardian via telephone.

Times of political campaigns are known for statements designed to score cheap political points. Buying into the claims rather than investigating them would unfortunately make falsehood appear real, he explained.A former Minister of Power, Dr. Olu Agunloye, shared a similar thought. “This is where I will task the media and other necessary bodies to carry out necessary investigation,” he said, noting: “It is unfortunate that there has never been a sincere anti-graft war in Nigeria; a major cankerworm retarding our growth and development. It would be shocking if this allegations turns out to be true.”

The standard-bearer of the National Conscience Party (NCP) in the presidential election, Dr. Yusuf Tanko, urged Buhari to resign immediately if the allegation is found to be genuine. “There is a need for a private investigation team to look into the allegation because government’s team can never unravel the truth. This is a serious matter that must not be swept under the carpet,” he said.

The national chairman of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Mr. Ralph Nwosu, said: “I expected them to provide good leadership but they have not lived up to my expectations. It is glaring that this government cannot fight corruption; especially with the way they are making so much noise about it. This administration in the last three years has been unkempt and it is the most corrupt in our democracy.

“The accusation of owning Etisalat and Keynote Bank is weighty. I will expect them defend the allegation, not through rhetoric, but in a very authentic manner. If you really want to make any kind of change, there are processes. But if you play politics with anything called change, including corruption, then you will find out that there will be corruption.”Yinka Odumakin, spokesperson of Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, said: “It is doubtful if a former president would come up with such allegations without some facts at his disposal. But let’s give the benefit of the doubt for a response from the first family.”

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