The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, said he would consider pardon for corruption suspects in order to help recover billions of dollars stashed abroad by the country’s politicians and government officials.
Abubakar unfolded the amnesty programme at a town hall meeting tagged: ‘’The Candidates”, organised by the MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with NTA and DARIA media on Wednesday in Abuja.
Nigerian treasury had been the target of rapacious public officials who looted it with reckless abandon, such that the Buhari administration has made fighting corruption one of its main pillars.
Buhari launched a whistle-blower scheme that netted billions of Naira and millions of dollars stashed in bank accounts or as government found out, in private homes.
In Abubakar’s view, his amnesty programme would encourage looters to voluntarily return some of the stolen funds badly needed to fund infrastructure investment and recommended sanctions for election rigging.
Atiku also said that his government would be willing to investigate the military top commanders as a way of tackling the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East, if elected.
He said that his government would not hesitate to deal with any senior officer who failed in his duty after being adequately funded by his government.
“We cannot continue to accept that kind of situation whereby commanders lose lives, lose equipment to terrorists and then nothing happens to them,’’ he said.
The PDP presidential candidate also said that he would be willing to investigate the report of Amnesty International indicting the military on allegations of genocide.
He stressed the need for government to invest more in education and health sectors as well as to bring in more private investors to compliment governments programmes in the health sector.
He said that if re-elected he would resend a bill to the National Assembly to prosecute any government official at any level that mismanaged education funds.
Asked if he would accept the outcome of the forthcoming presidential election if he lost, Abubakar said he would only do so if the election was credible”
Atiku also dismissed allegation that he used his position in the Nigerian Customs Service to enrich himself.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the custom allegation followed the controversial importation of 53 suit cases into the country in 1984 by a first class traditional ruler in the North.
Abubakar was the Customs Officer in Charge of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport when the suit cases were brought into the country.
He also refuted allegations that one of his wives had a case of money laundering to face in the United States of America, and could therefore, not travel abroad since the allegation.
A United States Senate report had accused Atiku Abubakar of laundering over $40 million in suspicious funds into the United States between 2000 and 2008, using his fourth wife, Jennifer Douglas.
According to the report, which was written by the US Senate Sub-committee on Investigations, most of the funds were through wire transfers sent by offshore corporations to U.S. bank accounts.
Abubakar, in the town hall meeting, however, refuted the allegation, saying his wife had never been indicted or accused of such offence.
“My Wife has not been indicted and she has not been charged, so there is no way you can hold her accountable, she has been traveling to America very often,“ he said.
On the issue of farmers and herdsmen clashes, Abubakar said there was need to enlighten the herders on feeding lots.
“There is need for extensive public sensitisation of these herders to adopt this solution to minimize this crisis,’’ adding that this would not only reduce the crises, as it would also increase their income.
On the allegation that he paid less tax, Abubakar said what he paid was his personal income tax, while his companies paid their taxes also to government.
He added that there may be mistake in the privatisation done under his eight years when he was vice president “but the programme was a success.’’
His running mate, Mr Peter Obi, said that the PDP government invested heavily in the power sector but that APC government had not invested anything in the sector.
“If you say that the PDP spent $16 billion and there is no power, it is not true,” Obi said.