President Goodluck Jonathan, in the night of Tuesday, March 27, reacted to the allegation by Ibrahim Magu, the chairman of Nigeria’s anti-graft body, that N1.3 trillion was looted under the immediate past administration.
Jonathan described the allegation as diversionary and coming days after the United States released a report that massive corruption remains under the present government.
The former president accused Magu of trying to drag his name “into the mix and blame him for this latest in a series of negative verdicts on the current administration’s anti-graft war.”
In his reaction to the allegation, Jonathan, through one of his spokespersons, Remo Omokri, said in a statement: “This is strange because Magu was expected to have used the forum to address the issues of impunity raised in the U.S. State Department report which directly indicted leaders of the anti-corruption crusade by emphatically noting, among other things, that ‘there is a climate of impunity in the President Muhammadu Buhari government that allows officials to engage in corrupt practices with a sense of exemption from punishment’.
“The claim of a stolen N1.3 trillion public fund which Magu reiterated on Monday is not new, for the discerning members of the public, the claim by Magu is rehash of false allegations that started its ill-fated journey in 2016.”
The former president also said that in January 2016, the minister of information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, claimed at a world press conference in Abuja, to mark the beginning of the administration’s war against corruption, that 55 well-placed Nigerians stole a whopping N1.34 trillion between 2006 and 2013, a period covering the presidencies of Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan.
“Nine months later, specifically in October 2016, the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Professor Itse Sagay, repeated the allegation with only a slight alteration, by alleging that about N1.4 trillion was stolen by top government officials and businessmen under the last three administrations.
“It will be recalled that in July 2015, Adams Oshiomhole, the current chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), had alleged that a former government minister in Nigeria stole $6bn (about N2.1 trillion). Oshiomhole said ‘US officials informed President Muhammadu Buhari of the alleged theft during his visit to Washington the previous month’.
“However, the U.S. State Department denied the story, asking Oshiomhole to name the official and not drag United States into Nigeria domestic politics.
“The truth is that Ibrahim Magu lied and this is not the first, or second time he has lied to the public,” the former president said.
Speaking further, Jonathan said: “It would be recalled that Mr Magu has boasted on many occasions that the EFCC under him had recovered about N739 billion within two years, adding that over N500 billion was recovered in 2017 alone.
“However, Kemi Adeosun, the then minister of finance in the same government at that time, decided to put a lie to M. Magu’s claims, by revealing in March 2018, that contrary to all the figures provided over time by the EFCC’s acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, only N91 billion of such claims could be accounted for by the government.
“So, instead of relying on wild and unsubstantiated allegations, I would advise Mr. Magu to focus on some facts, like the following.”
He noted that the Transparency International has claimed that Nigeria is more corrupt now than during his own time.
“Moreover, it is a fact that renowned entertainer, Mr Charles Oputa, AKA Charly Boy, recently revealed that the spokesman for the Muhammadu Buhari re-election campaign, Mr Festus Keyamo, paid him a nine-figure sum (at least one hundred million Naira), to attack the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the February 2019 Presidential elections.
“The question Mr Magu should answer is where did Festus Keyamo get so much money that he carelessly throws around?
“Finally, Nigerians saw clear evidence via drone imagery that bullion vans carted cash to the home of the national leader of the All Progressive Congress, Senator Bola Tinubu, 48 hours to the presidential election.
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“Mr Tinubu even boasted on live television that the bullion vans carried money and that it is nobody’s business. This is even as the money laundering act of 2011 makes it illegal for any individual to make cash payments exceeding five million naira. And provides that every cash transaction over ₦5,000,000 must be done via a financial institution.
“Magu should realize that his credibility and that of the agency he leads should derive from the attention he gives to objectivity, professionalism and hard evidence.
“Enough! Nigerians want to hear something new, good news, tales of hope, and not this rehash of poorly articulated fables like corruption fighting back and non-existing folklores of people who stole in an unknown year,” the former president said.
Legit.ng earlier reported that Ibrahim Magu said that over N1.3 trillion was stolen by 32 entities between 2011 and 2015.
Magu disclosed this at an event held in Lagos, on Monday, March 25, according to a statement by the commission’s acting head, media and publicity, Tony Orilade.
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