At least eight of many politicians working for the re-election of Nigeria’s present President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 2019 election have pending corruption cases price N232bn, checks by SaturdayPUNCH have revealed.
Investigation by Saturday Punch confirmed that the quantity concerned in the numerous graft cases, that are at present pending earlier than safety businesses, particularly the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, vary from N223m to N100bn for every of the politicians.
Some of the eight politicians, who was members of the Peoples Democratic Party and different opposition events, had allegedly defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress to cease the dangling axe of the EFCC and different safety businesses from falling on them.
Specifically, the politicians who’re at present both below probe or prosecution for allegedly diverting authorities funds have individually vowed to make sure Buhari stays in energy untill 2023.
The eight politicians embrace the senator representing Nasarawa West at the National Assembly, Abdullahi Adamu; the senator representing Sokoto North and former Governor of Sokoto State, Aliyu Wamakko; ex-Senate Minority Leader and former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, who lately defected from the PDP to the APC; and a former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu.
Others are the instant previous Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal; the former Governor of Rivers State and Director-General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation in 2015, Rotimi Amaechi; the Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari; and former National Chairman of the PDP, Ali Modu Sheriff.
*Abdullahi Adamu (N15bn)*
For occasion, Adamu, a serving senator and former Governor of Nasarawa State, is one of the President’s allies in the Senate. He can also be a member of the National Advisory Committee of the Buhari 2019 Presidential Support Committee.
The lawmaker is being prosecuted alongside 18 others for allegedly stealing N15bn from the treasury via contracts awarded when he was governor for eight years.
His son, Nurianu, was additionally arraigned by the EFCC in January 2018 for alleged N90m fraud. However, the former governor has been one of the fiercest critics of Senate President Bukola Saraki.
According to Saraki, the former governor has been insulting him so as to get a gentle touchdown.
Saraki had mentioned in July, “I have deliberately ignored the antics of Senator Abdullahi Adamu, especially his constant media attacks on me and the Senate since the EFCC dusted his file on alleged case of corruption and also went ahead to arraign his son in court.”
*Aliyu Wamakko (N15bn)*
Senator Aliyu Wamakko is in cost of Buhari’s marketing campaign in Sokoto State. A couple of weeks in the past, he held a huge rally on behalf of Buhari so as to show to the President that Governor Aminu Tambuwal’s defection could be of no impact.
Wamakko, who served as governor from 2007 to 2015, is below investigation over allegations of theft of public funds and cash laundering totalling N15bn, an allegation he has vehemently denied.
Spokesperson for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, had confirmed in April that the fee was investigating allegations contained in a petition towards Wammako and that he would quickly be invited to defend the allegations.
*Godswill Akabio (N100bn)*
The former governor of Akwa Ibom State has been below probe by the EFCC for over three years based mostly on allegations that he diverted over N100bn from the coffers of the state between 2007 and 2015.
Akpabio was welcomed into the APC by the President himself.
The former governor, who represents Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District, lately vowed that the APC would take over Akwa Ibom the method Adolph Hitler invaded Poland.
Akpabio, who on Friday travelled to China with the President is arguably the closest defector to Buhari and has vowed to do every part doable to make sure Buhari is re-elected.
Although he has been grilled by the EFCC, he has not been charged.
*Orji Uzor Kalu (N3.2bn)*
Kalu, who ruled Abia State from 1999 to 2007, was one of the most influential politicians in the South-East throughout his time in authorities. After leaving the PDP, he fashioned the Progressive Peoples Alliance from the place he contested and misplaced a senatorial election in 2015.
The following 12 months, he defected to the APC and has paid a number of visits to the President since then.
Recently, he visited the President in his hometown of Daura, Katsina State, the place he was bestowed with the title, ‘Dan Baiwan Hausa’ by the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Umar Farouq.
According to the emir, Kalu was bestowed with the title in appreciation of his “unwavering support for our son, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, Bayajida II .”
However, the former governor has been having a working authorized battle with the EFCC since leaving workplace.
The EFCC alleged that Kalu and the others dedicated fraud between August 2001 and October 2005. It accused Kalu of utilising his firm (Slok Nigeria Limited) to retain in the account of First Inland Bank, now First City Monument Bank, the sum of N200m.
The fee mentioned that the sum fashioned half of funds illegally derived from the coffers of the Abia State authorities. The EFCC additionally mentioned that the accused retained, in several financial institution accounts, about N2.5bn belonging to the state authorities, including that he diverted about N3.2bn from the coffers of the similar authorities.
Regardless of his travails, the former governor has insisted that he’ll do all inside his energy to make sure that Buhari is re-elected.
*Babachir Lawal (N223m)*
The instant previous Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, was accused by the Senate advert hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East, led by Senator Shehu Sani, of awarding a N223m consultancy contract for the elimination of invasive plant species in Komadugu, Yobe Water Channels to his firm, Rholavision Engineering in contravention of Section 43(iii) and (iv) of the Public Procurement Act 2007.
A committee headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo subsequently investigated Lawal and really useful his dismissal in October 2017, a 12 months after he was indicted by the Senate.
Although he’s below probe by the EFCC, Babachir is amongst the key figures working Buhari’s re-election marketing campaign in Adamawa State. He additionally revealed throughout a latest interview on Channels Television that he nonetheless had direct entry to the President.
The former SGF has been having a management tussle with Governor Jibrilla Bindow over who ought to lead Buhari’s marketing campaign in the state.
*Rotimi Amaechi (N97bn)*
Amaechi, who was the Director-General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation in 2015, has been charged with the activity of guaranteeing that Buhari is elected a second time
The Minister of Transport, who’s the face of the Buhari marketing campaign, was indicted by the Justice George Omeregi-led Rivers State Judicial Commission of Inquiry set as much as examine the sale of state belongings.
He and others have been accused of allegedly misappropriating N97bn via the sale of the state valued belongings.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, had alleged that $150m (N30bn at the time) was spent on Buhari’s marketing campaign in 2015.
Amaechi challenged his indictment however misplaced at the Appeal Court. Although anti-graft businesses have refused to state if he’s below investigation or not, he has but to clear his identify and continues to be below investigation by the state authorities.
The Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Emma Okah, insisted that Amaechi was not cleared by the panel that indicted him on the sale of some belongings belonging to the state.
Also, a prime official at the Government House in Port Harcourt, identified that at the final depend on the matter, the former governor had gone to the Supreme Court.
An enchantment filed by Amaechi towards the Justice George Omereji-led panel was in May 2017 dismissed by the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt.
The Appeal Court had mentioned that the refusal of Amaechi to seem earlier than the panel amounted to self-denial.
But Okah mentioned that the matter was at present at the Supreme Court.
“He (Amaechi) went to court against the panel and the matter is still in the Supreme Court. The state government has not cleared him on the matter concerning the sale of valued assets belonging to the state,” he mentioned.
Amaechi couldn’t be reached for feedback, as he didn’t reply calls to his cell phone.
A textual content message despatched to him on the matter didn’t get any reply.
However, a senior official of the Federal Ministry of Transportation informed our correspondent that the minister was out of the nation.
The official, who additionally works instantly with the minister, acknowledged he (the official) was not conscious of the mentioned allegations towards Amaechi.
“I have not seen it (the report) and can’t speak on it. However, the minister is in China right now,” the official, who pleaded to be nameless, mentioned.
*Abdul’aziz Yari (N680m)*
Yari has been engaged in a fierce battle with the EFCC for over a 12 months following allegations that he diverted practically N700m which fashioned half of the Paris Club refund resulting from his state.
In July final 12 months, a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered an interim forfeiture of the sums of N500m and $500,000 (N180m) mentioned to have been looted from the Paris Club refunds made by the Federal Government in favour of the 36 states of the federation.
The sums of cash mentioned to have been recovered from two corporations, First Generation Mortgage Bank Limited, and Gosh Projects Limited, have been allegedly linked to the governor.
The EFCC additionally alleged, in an affidavit filed in help of its ex parte utility searching for the interim forfeiture of the sums of cash, that the N500m was diverted to offset Yari’s private mortgage obtained from the First Generation Mortgage Bank Limited.
In July, the Presidential Support Committee of Buhari 2019 appointed Sheriff as the director-general.
The National Secretary of the group, Kassim Kassim, mentioned in a assertion that the conglomerate of about 300 Buhari supporters’ teams unanimously endorsed Sheriff to steer the Presidential Support Committee, Buhari 2019 and never the Buhari’s Campaign Organisation for the 2019 election.
He mentioned teams that made up the Presidential Support Committee have been all registered with the workplace of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Political Matters.
Sheriff and others are below investigation for allegedly receiving N450m out of the N23bn ($115m) bribe allegedly disbursed by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, throughout the build-up to the 2015 elections.
He has been grilled a number of occasions by the EFCC however was by no means charged. His non-public jet was additionally impounded by the fee however later launched to him.
*Sagay, EFCC react*
Speaking with our correspondent, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), mentioned becoming a member of the President’s camp wouldn’t save any politician from probe or prosecution.
He mentioned these whose cases had already been taken to court docket would proceed to face prosecution.
Sagay, nevertheless, mentioned there was room for plea discount, an choice he mentioned cussed folks would by no means use.
He mentioned, “I do know Akpabio continues to be below probe and if he’s discovered culpable, he could be invited and prosecuted. For me, the solely import of him becoming a member of the President’s marketing campaign is that he may be persuaded to make a plea discount rapidly, which everyone seems to be entitled to, however the cussed ones won’t take that choice
“As for allegations against Amaechi, he was indicted by a fake and useless judicial panel set up by Wike, who is himself under investigation for corruption. He set up a kangaroo panel, which Amaechi refused to answer to.”
When requested about the Appeal Court ruling which ordered Amaechi to reply to the panel, Sagay added, “he doesn’t have to answer to rubbish. Judges who allow themselves to engage in injustice deserve to be disregarded. Amaechi is innocent. All the charges were trumped up.”
Also talking with our correspondent, the EFCC Spokesperson, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, mentioned becoming a member of the President’s camp wouldn’t translate to immunity from prosecution.
Uwujaren mentioned, “The EFCC neither closes cases nor clears people. Also, being in the President’s party does not give anyone immunity from prosecution.”
Buhari, who later received the presidential election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress had persistently accused the then ruling celebration, the PDP of participating in mind-boggling corrupt practices.
“If Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria,” Buhari had mentioned repeatedly throughout the build-up to the 2015 common elections.
However, no sooner had he been declared winner than some politicians from the similar corrupt celebration started defecting to the President’s personal celebration.
While some of the allegedly corrupt individuals have been stored at arm’s size, others grew to become very near the President, always showing in footage with the professed anti-corruption champion and sending combined alerts to Nigerians.
*SERAP, CACOL react*
The Executive Director of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Adetokunbo Mumuni, nevertheless, mentioned it will be incorrect to sentence the President for being supported by folks alleged to be corrupt if there was no proof that he had prevented anti-corruption businesses from prosecuting such folks.
He mentioned, “Unless you want to tell me that the anti-corruption agencies will not do anything unless they are prompted or unless somebody says they should do it, I don’t want to believe rumours. Allegations must be backed by concrete evidence for it to be substantiated. I don’t want to think that somebody with convincing evidence against him will be prevented from facing the music simply because he supports the President. For example, Kalu still has his case in court.”
Similarly, the Executive Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Mr. Debo Adeniran, mentioned it will be incorrect to presume folks responsible as a result of they have corruption allegations towards them and that the President couldn’t have stopped anybody from supporting him, in any case.
He mentioned, “You can’t forestall sinners from going to a non secular place, what you don’t have to permit is for them to take over the pulpit to evangelise the doctrine of the crimes that they have been committing. From our latest expertise, defecting to the ruling celebration has not, in sensible phrases, stopped the trial of some of politicians. For occasion, Kalu’s case continues to be in court docket.
“And as of now, Akpabio has yet to be convicted and until someone is convicted, you cannot say they have committed a crime. Even Kalu, whose case is in court, cannot be said to be guilty of the offence until he is convicted. So, it is a moral question and the moral suasion has its limit.”
But a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Onueze Okocha, mentioned President Buhari was sending a harmful and adverse sign to Nigerians by permitting folks with pending corruption cases to work for his re-election.
He mentioned, “The entire factor sends a harmful and sad sign to all of us that the so-called anti-corruption warfare shouldn’t be entire. We can all see that solely these in the opposition are primarily these investigated of corruption whereas these in the ruling celebration are considered sacred cows.
“It’s what we’ve all the time recognized; there isn’t any effectiveness in the anti-corruption warfare. Look at Akpabio, for occasion, shortly after he was elected to the Senate, the EFCC raided his home and located heaps of money. Now that he has defected to the APC, what occurs to him?
“Babachir Lawal, though has been sacked, is still free to walk around. Look at the issue of fake National Youth Service Corps certificate held by Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, all these tell us there are sacred cows in the anti-corruption war.”