The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) and the Atiku Media Office clashed yesterday over an allegation that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar was planning to bring into the country illicit funds.
In a statement, the BMO alleged the former vice president Atiku Abubakar plans to flood the country with what it described as illicit funds in the run-up to the 2019 elections.
Its Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju, and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke, urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian Customs Service NCS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to watch out for illegal funds’ transfer across the borders.
But Atiku’s Media Adviser Paul Ibe dismissed the allegation as “another infantile outburst that tells more about the accuser than the accused.”
Ibe said the PDP standard bearer has no looted funds anywhere.
In its statement, the BMO accused the former vice of being desperate to bring money stashed abroad into the country with a view to outspending the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
It reads: “We have it on good authority that the PDP and its Presidential candidate are making strenuous efforts to bring in public funds stashed abroad including those from recent sales of assets in Angola which were acquired with illicit funds.
“We also know that the former vice president has made promissory transaction commitments on a number of strategic national assets including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and a percentage holding in the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) to a foreign syndicate.
“All these are out of desperation and as a result of his inability to raise funds from governors elected on PDP platform, many of whom are themselves locked in stiff battles for their seats.”
According to Akinsiju and Madueke, the decision to bring in funds by the PDP candidate followed stringent measures put in place by the CBN and EFCC to ensure sanity in the banking sector.
It alleged that said top officials of the last PDP government used some third generation banks to funnel public funds to party officials in all states of the federation before the last election.
The statement added: “It is clear to Atiku Abubakar and PDP elements that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has put in place a system that has made it difficult for the type of situation in 2015 where a former minister could warehouse $115,000,000 (One hundred and fifteen million dollars) which was then shared among party officials to influence electoral officials.
“They also know that even the EFCC is very much on the alert at local airports as seen in the manner its operatives have twice in recent times intercepted undeclared sums of money running into millions of dollars.
“So these opposition elements are now working out a more crooked way of bringing in money through the borders in order to circumvent the system before and during the February 2019 elections”.
The group urged all relevant agencies to double their efforts to enforce provisions of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended).
Reacting, Atiku’s spokesman said the former vice president has a reputation of blocking the transfer of illicit funds.
Ibe said: “For the avoidance of doubt, history shows that rather than smuggle in looted cash, Waziri Atiku Abubakar has a record of preventing looted funds from being smuggled into Nigeria.
In 1984, it was Atiku Abubakar, as head of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Command of the Nigerian Customs and Excise Department, that stopped the ADC of the then Military Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari, from smuggling in 53 suitcases of looted money into the country.
“Young Nigerians and millennials, who may not be aware of this incident, will do well to Google it. Only the guilty are afraid.”
Ibe quoted what Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai said of the controversial suitcases, adding that Atiku had survived all the traps set for him because he had nothing to hide.
He said: “Atiku Abubakar’s plane was searched, his accounts have been perused and his businesses have been thoroughly investigated with a fine tooth and nothing remotely corrupt or illegal has been found.
“And while they are at it, we urge them to tell Nigerians those behind Etisalat and Keystone Bank and how they suddenly possessed such wealth overnight.”
The Buhari campaign office had defended the President’s integrity and accused the opposition party of deliberately planning to drag the name of President Buhari in the mud.
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