Alliance for Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, (ASCAB), a group led by prominent Nigerian human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s claim that late dictator, Sani Abacha, stole $1 billion contradicts the figures earlier released by his own officials.
The group described as inconsistent the President’s statement contained in an article he wrote for international magazine, Newsweek, adding that the $1bn quoted by Buhari is barely one fifth of the total amount top officials of the same government claimed to have recovered from the late military henchman.
In a statement signed by ASCAB Secretary for Publicity, Adewale Adeoye and made available to newsmen on Monday, the group said that the President’s article falls short of reflecting the stark realities of corruption at the home front and had ridiculed the image of the country as forebears of truth.
“There is a wide gap between the $1b President Buhari claimed Abacha had stolen and the $5b earlier admitted by the same government.
This raises fundamental questions about the whole gamut of the campaign against corruption which is one of the focal points of Buhari’s regime.”
The group insisted that the inconsistency has raised fresh dusts that suggest the Federal Government is concealing its knowledge about the extent the country was gang-raped by an outstanding rogue regime that ruled the country for five years.
“Buhari’s views were published in last week’s edition of Newsweek magazine. President Buhari, in the article, wrote that “close to $1bn of funds stolen from the people of Nigeria under a previous, undemocratic junta in the 1990s that have now been returned to our country from the US, UK and Switzerland,”
Transparency International, (TI) said the FG recovered not less than $3.6 billion from the Abacha loot from 1998-2020.
ASCAB, established by labour and over 70 civil societies spread across Nigeria came in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic to ensure tiers of government are pinned down to the highest levels of fiscal responsibility in the face of economic meltdown associated with COVID-19.
How Buhari emboldened Abacha’s family to ‘reclaim oil block – Former Attorney General
Meanwhile, Mohammed Adoke, a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, has accused President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of sympathizing with the Sani Abacha’s family.
The former Head of State who ruled Nigeria between 1993 and 1998, is alleged to have looted millions of dollars from the treasury.
Adoke stated that when Abacha’s family decided to go to court and make claims on the OPL 245, otherwise known as Malabu, under the Buhari government confirms his belief.
According to the former minister, the development had shown the Abachas found the present political environment conducive.
Adoke stated this in his book, ‘Burden of Service Reminiscences of Nigeria’s Former Attorney-General’ expected to be on sale in Nigeria from Monday.
He stated that President Buhari was misled into thinking that he was not fair to the Abacha ‘s in the Malabu transaction.
He added that the confidence of Mohammed, Abacha’s son grew under the Buhari’s administration and decided to file a case in court.
Adoke insisted that the Abachas couldn’t have done that under previous administrations.
He said someone must have given Mohammed the confidence that the courts could be used to get the oil block back.
He said, “Obviously, for the Abacha’s to dare raise their heads to make claims on their loot, today’s political environment is conducive to them. Clearly, they have sympathisers in the Buhari government.”
“For the eight years that President Obasanjo was in power, the Abachas never came out to make a claim to OPL 245. They never tried it under President Yar’Adua either.”
“Under President Jonathan, they never came out boldly to assert any claim. But under the Buhari government, they feel so comfortable to make such an audacious claim, even going on to file a suit.”
“The Abacha’s have become sure-footed enough to step forward to go after OPL 245!”
Adoke stated that he gave Mohammed a tough time to recover the public funds looted by the Abacha family.
He claimed he made the Abacha’s to forfeit money hidden away in several jurisdictions across the country, hence “he (Mohammed) hates me to no end”.
Adoke also spoke on the issues that led to the defeat of the Peoples Demicratic Party in 2015.
He said other people should have been allowed to participate in the presidential primary election of the party.
He said, “Another mistake made by the PDP was attempting to adopt the American model where a sitting President from the ruling party does not get challenged. Aspirants were not allowed to participate in the 2015 presidential primary.”
“They should have realised that Nigerian democracy had not advanced to that level of maturity.”
“In hindsight, it would have been better to have had a contentious primary. It would have created a moral burden for any aspirant who considered leaving afterwards.”
“In my view, that would have accorded people the opportunity to ventilate their views by participating in the process to get a sense of accomplishment, even if they didn’t win. That would have given the party’s primary more credibility.”
“As soon as only one nomination form was printed for the presidential race, more upheaval was engendered. Many more people exited the party. Even those who remained were not there for the love of the party but for the benefit they stood to reap: campaign funds and more.”