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2019 Election: Buhari and his ex-PDP ‘corrupt’ friends
Buhari blames PDP for bad governance but appoints those he accused to sell his candidacy to Nigerians
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari in the last three years of his administration has not proved his critics wrong about the hypocrisy of his war against corruption.
The President campaigned in 2015 using the mantra of war against corruption to win Nigerians’ sympathy and votes to unseat Goodluck Jonathan whose administration he accused of manifest corruption.
But his administration has been at the receiving end of criticisms for not only prosecuting a selective war against corruption, but also accommodating those he labelled as ‘corrupt’ having mismanaged the country for the past 16 years, particularly, members of the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Despite identifying PDP and its members for the woes of the country, Buhari has appointed several former leaders of the ‘corrupt’ party as his chief campaigners.
While campaigning during the presidential debate in 2011 as the flag bearer of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Buhari has called out the PDP as the enabler of massive corruption that has held the country down.
“We know where we were in 1999 when the PDP came. We will find out how much we have spent up till today… The PDP has virtually killed this country in the last 16 years. The evidence is very clear…” Buhari said, referring to the $16 billion allocated to power generation without electricity.
When his party later merged with others to become APC and won the 2015 election, he continued the refrain.
“In the First Republic, more enduring infrastructure was built with meagre resources. But in the past 16 years, we made a lot of money without planning for the rainy day”, the President said in 2016.
As the president re-contest for the second term of four years, the narrative has not changed, despite his renewed effort to hobnob with PDP stalwarts of the previous administration.
During a meeting with the Nigerian community in New York when he attended the 73rd United Nations General Assembly, the president lamented that the elite allowed Nigeria to be mismanaged for 16 years of the PDP rule, without raising an alarm.
But the recent announcement of the names of members of the Buhari Presidential Campaign Council for the 2019 elections shows the hypocrisy of his statement.
Safe for a few members of the Council such as former EFCC Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, former governor of Osun State and a national leader of APC, Bisi Akande, a former senator Olorunimbe Mamora and former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, almost every other politician appointed by the President into his 2019 Presidential Campaign Council have one corruption case or another hanging on their necks.
Five members of Buhari Campaign Council facing corruption charges
The two-time former governor of Rivers State is the Director General of Buhari 2019 Presidential Campaign Council.
He was a member of the PDP and was among aggrieved governors under the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan who left the party to join the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which later metamorphosed with other parties into APC.
After his tenure ended, he was among former governors listed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to be under investigation for corruption.
In 2015, the Commission commenced a probe into the administration of Amaechi. The probe followed a petition by a Port Harcourt-based group, the Integrity Group, which on July 29, 2015 wrote to the EFCC detailing three instances of alleged corruption, graft and abuse of office under Amaechi’s government.
The first allegation was that Rivers state electric power projects were sold and the proceeds converted to other uses through payments amounting to N60 billion to three companies all located at Trans Amadi, Port Harcourt. The alleged transfers, made in US dollars, occurred within a space of one week between December 1 and 8, 2014. The second instance of alleged corruption was that the proposed Karibi Whyte Specialist Hospital in Port Harcourt was a failed contract, which cost the state a massive N4.63 billion in what the petitioners described as questionable circumstances.
But in what has become an internet sensation, Amaechi during a programme, Hard Copy on Channels Television aired on April 28, 201 said he was not corrupt and never liked money.
Prior to that time, his former boss, Goodluck Jonathan had reportedly in March 2015 challenged EFCC to go after 20 Nigerians including Amaechi over corruption allegations.
In a leaked letter dated February 19, Jonathan through his Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Jones Oladehinde Arogbofa , told EFCC to investigate 20 persons including APC leaders like former Lagos governor, Bola Tinubu, former vice president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar and Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers state.
“I have been directed by the C in C to instruct your Agency to clandestinely investigate the personal and official finances of the following present and former government functionaries and report back by 16th of March,” Arogbofa said in the leaked letter with block letters that read: “THE PRESIDENCY: OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF STAFF”
But in spite of this, Amaechi, a Minister under Buhari administration has continued to be in the good book of the President and occupies the lofty position of Director General of his campaign council.
The former governor of Benue State and a former Deputy Senate Minority eader is the Vice Chairman, North of Buhari Campaign Council. He was a PDP member when he became governor of Benue State and served two terms.
Akume like many of his contemporaries has cases and allegations of corruption against him when he held sway in Benue State.
In May 2016, he was accused by a former Police Commissioner, Abubakar Tsav of taking N2billion from the coffers of the state hours before handing over to Gabriel Suswan.
“Less than 24 hours before he handed over to his successor Suswam in 2007, about N2 billion was siphoned off Benue’s treasury by the out-going governor,”Tsav was quoted as saying.
The former police chief said he had all the evidence of withdrawal and petitioned the EFCC.
“As usual my petition, with all the evidence of withdrawal, was shredded into trash-bin. I was later informed that it was Suswam who pleaded with the EFCC to drop the case.”
As if to confirm Tsav’s allegations, the EFCC in July 2016, listed Akume alongside former governors for investigation over corrupt practices.
In releasing the names, the anti-graft agency, listed Senate President, Bukola Saraki, then factional Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Ali Modu Sheriff; and Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio for alleged corruption while serving as governors in their respective states.
It said would revisit other cases of corruption hanging around the necks of 31 other former governors in the country. But besides Joshua Dariye, former governor of Plateau and Jolly Nyame, former governor of Taraba, who were tried and sentenced, Akume and others are still walking free in the country and taking up appointments under the government that indicted them.
Until when he defected from the PDP, Godswill Akpabio, former governor of Akwa Ibom State was among those who ruined Nigeria’s economy in the estimation of Buhari administration.
He is currently the South-South Zonal Director of Buhari Presidential Campaign Council.
Akpabio in August 2018 left the PDP to join APC despite being listed in 2016 by EFCC as among former governors under investigation. But in the following month, EFCC, in responding to the public outcry that greeted his defection despite corruption allegations against him, said it was still investigating the former governor.
Akpabio entered the EFCC’s books for allegedly looting the sum of N108.1 billion from the coffers of Akwa Ibom when he was a governor.
He has also been accused of acquiring choice property across the country, namely: Plot 5 Okogosi Spring Close, off Katsina-Ala Crescent, Maitama-Abuja; a multi-billion naira mansionette at Plot 28 Colorado Close, Maitama, Abuja and another multi-billion naira mansion at 22 Probyn Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.
In September of 2017, the EFCC revealed that it was investigating Akpabio over a N1.4billion gift to a bank.
At the grand defection rally last Wednesday, Akpabio said the anti-graft agency has cleared him of all corruption charges.
“Those petitions to the EFCC have been sorted out. As I stand today, I have not been charged to court because nothing was found against me,” Akpabio said.
Abdullahi Adamu was a founding member of PDP and served as governor of Nasarawa State twice. He is the North Central Director of the Presidential Campaign Council.
On March 3, 2010, the EFCC arraigned the former governor, now a senator alongside 18 others on a 149-count charge of fraud to the tune of N15 billion, before Justice Ibrahim Buba.
Justice Buba was later transferred to Asaba Division and replaced by Justice Marcel Awokulehin. Justice Awokulehin voluntarily withdrew from presiding over ex- governor Adamu’s fraud case, citing personal reasons and “in conformity with his conscience”.
. Others arraigned alongside the former governor were: Alhaji Halilu Bala Usman, Alhaji Usman Aboki, Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu, Prince and Princes Limited, Jonabel Engineering Nigeria Limited, JCC International, Mbani Construction Company Limited, Shinco Nigeria Limited, Henry N Nick Associates Limited, Water Search Nigeria, Sneccu Group of Companies, Nicas Industry Limited, Addais Nigeria Limited, Faslan Ventures Limited, Yoojin Nigeria, Kiagama Con Limited, Sharafa Bros Nigeria and Riok International.
But Okorowa, in his landmark ruling, said the former governor had a case to answer and therefore urged the accused to be ready to face trial. This development made ex-governor Adamu and his co-travellers to file an appeal and also served the lower court (Federal High Court, Lafia) with a stay of proceeding motion while the appeal last. On March 3, 2011, the EFCC filed a 15 paragraph counter- affidavit opposing the application for stay of proceedings, a development which necessitated the accused going on appeal
However, Adamu would later deny having a case to answer with the EFCC insisting that the case was struck out in 2016, even after Senate President, Bukola Saraki recently reminded him of the pending case.
Nwoye was a former governorship candidate of PDP, in the 2013 election in Anambra state but currently a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He is a member of the Presidential Campaign Council serving as Director of Youth Mobilisation.
He was also the governorship candidate of APC in last governorship election in the state. But he is also not free from allegations of corruption.
In the build-up to the election that he lost to Governor Willie Obiano in 2017, the people of Umueze-Anam Wards 1 and 2 of Anambra West Local Government Area were reportedly aggrieved that Nwoye diverted funds meant to construct solar-powered borehole in their town.
According to them, the money for the construction of the boreholes was captured in the 2016 budget and funds appropriated for it as part of the constituency project for the area.
They accused him and others of diverting the funds following which a suit was filed at the Federal High Court Awka in Suit No. FHC/AWK/CS/46/2017 Between Ogbuefi P.O. Okonkwo & 4 Ors Vs. Hon. Tony Nwoye & 5 Ors the parties concerned are seeking that the money meant for the water project be returned for the execution of the job.
Buhari’s sudden U-Turn against corrupt former governors
In 2016, the Attorney General of Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, wrote to the Independent and Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on his intention to re-open cases against 31 former governors.
Malami in the letter said, “It is clear that some of these governors and other politically-exposed persons have not been charged to court despite the fact that the ICPC has concluded their investigations, concerning allegations levelled against them, for one reason or the other.
“It is the position of the present administration that all ex-governors, who the ICPC had long concluded investigations into the various allegations levelled against them, should be immediately prosecuted.”
The letter also gave the Chairman of the ICPC a 14-day ultimatum to “remit the duplicate case files concerning the politically-exposed persons investigated by the ICPC over the years” to the office of the AGF.
However, there have been serious moves since 2016 by the government to prosecute these governors, particularly that many of them have joined the ruling party. This underscores the major hypocrisy of the Buhari administration.