Major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, described the refusal of the Presidency to speak on the alleged plan by the Federal Government to block the recovery of the money and give part of the money to Bagudu as an indication that the government was not sincere “despite its acclaimed integrity and fight against corruption.”
The party, therefore, called on Nigerians to ask the President to speak on the alleged plan to pay the governor the huge sum.
National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the issue, also called on the United States Government to insist that the government must explain how it would spend the money when repatriated.
He said, “Remember that the President even said the late General Abacha did not steal a kobo from the Nigeria government? So, if the same regime is planning to give a governor that huge sum of money from the loot, then you should understand.
“I want Nigerians to demand probe, as we are doing now. Poverty is killing Nigerians. The roads are bad, airports are almost dysfunctional and nothing seems to be working. The majority of Nigerians cannot even afford a meal a day. Killings are on the increase, Nigerians are losing their jobs while businesses are closing down. Government is not talking or addressing these issues, but it would pretend that everything is okay and would rather give such a large sum of money to a governor on the platform of his party. We cannot continue like that.”
Also, a civil society organisation, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission to prosecute any political office holder linked to the late Abacha’s loot.
The Executive Chairman, CACOL, Mr Debo Adeniran, noted in an interview with Saturday PUNCH that the Federal Government should “stop engaging in self-denial” and allow the anti-graft agencies to probe anyone linked to Abacha’s loot. He said it was not possible for the former Head of State to have singlehandedly stolen the country’s money.
He said, “Since a very long time, we have been raising the argument that there is no way only the former Head of State, Abacha, could have laundered so much money without having some other agencies or persons in government or out of government with him.
“We have advised the EFCC to stretch its dragnet beyond the Abacha family to include those who worked with that government. Basically, we are gradually having clues around the Abacha loot.
“Most of it may not have been stolen by Abacha alone. EFCC and ICPC have a lot of work to do to unearth those behind or linked to the loot. Now that Nigeria has mutual legal assistance treaty with the United States of America, more should be achieved.
“It is unthinkable that after many years, nobody apart from the late Abacha is being castigated for the laundering of that money. We are aware that it is not possible for only one person to launder the country’s money abroad.”
Meanwhile, anti-corruption group, Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project, has rejected attempts by Buhari’s government to hand over $100m to Bagudu. It, however, said it would take legal action.
In a tweet on Friday, SERAP stated, “The reported plan by the Nigerian government to give $100m from loot recovered from Sani Abacha to Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, is a betrayal of the victims of corruption and an affront to the UN Convention against corruption. We’ll sue to stop this from ever happening.”
There was, however, outrage on Friday after the story went viral, with many accusing the Buhari government of hypocrisy and shielding corrupt persons, especially concerning the Federal Government’s much touted anti-corruption fight.
As of 10pm on Friday, Abacha and Bagudu were part of the top trends on Twitter. As of the time of filing this report, Abacha as a trend had about 12,500 tweets while Bagudu had 8,097 tweets.
One of those who commented, Misogynist-General, tweeted via @VillageParrot, “Buhari wants to give $100m of the repatriated Abacha loot to Kebbi Governor, who helped Abacha loot the funds in the first place. America disagrees. That is how Buhari is fighting corruption. End of discussion.”
Also, Adetutu Balogun, who tweeted via @Tutsy22, wrote, “US Govt is opposing Buhari’s plan to give $100m of Abacha loot to Kebbi State Governor Bagudu. The man that helped Abacha to steal the money. Let me just wait for Buharists to come and tell us who sensible Buhari is.”
In his comment on the website of The PUNCH, one Azzo wrote, “The point is that there is a guilty party to the whole loot in Buhari’s government in the person of Bagudu. Buhari claims to be fighting corruption, what is Bagudu still doing in the APC unchecked and even so a key figure? Why is Buhari not interested in investigating Bagudu whether or not the loot was during the PDP era. We are all about matters at hand right now and not at any other time. If it weren’t broke we would not be needing a new party (APC) to repair it. I am 100% sure no one knew about Bagudu’s involvement in the Abacha loot during the Abacha regime until now.” Additional report culled from Punch