Omololu Ogunmade, Adedayo Akinwale and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The presidency last night dismissed the threat by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to expose members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s family who were alleged to have owned N1 trillion shares in both Keystone Bank and 9mobile.
Reacting to the allegation last night in a telephone conversation with THISDAY, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the presidency had no proof of such accusation and hence would not react to an allegation that could not be proved.
He challenged the opposition party to make real its threat by making public the evidence that it claimed to be at its disposal.
“We don’t have any evidence of that allegation. We can’t react to what we don’t have any evidence about. They should go ahead and bring out the evidence,” Adesina insisted.
The Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation also challenged the PDP and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to prove, with documentary evidence, its allegation that relatives of President Muhammadu Buhari illicitly acquired shares in the two companies.
The spokesman of the campaign, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), spoke again Thursday, asking the PDP to come forward with its verifiable evidence of the claim and be forever quiet.
He said, “We also urge the PDP to stop making wild, unsubstantiated allegations of corruption without a modicum of proof. We have no time to respond to any allegation by the PDP without the backing of some kind of document or proof. When we see some scintilla of proof, we shall respond appropriately.
“And that is how we have treated the recent allegation of acquisition of shares in Etisalat and Keystone Bank by some supposed ‘family members’ of the president. No name was mentioned and no document was shown. Until you mention names, addresses of properties mentioned, we cannot follow them on a wild goose chase.”
Atiku had on Wednesday in a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communication, Mr. Phrank Shuaibu, alleged that some family members of the president acquired shares in Keystone Bank and Etisalat (now 9Mobile) and threatened to release more details about how the said family members allegedly acquired N1.032 trillion shares in the two companies.
The PDP campaign organisation’s Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, reiterated this yesterday, telling journalists in Abuja that Buhari no longer has the moral standing to seek re-election until he directly responds to Atiku’s revelation that the president’s relatives have soiled their hands in the alleged corruption scandal.
Ologbondiyan challenged Buhari to explain how his family members came about N1.032 trillion for the alleged acquisition.
He explained that it was not an issue for Buhari’s aides to howl about in the media, as it touches directly on his person, particularly his perception as a symbol of the Talakawa, while also calling on him to address the issue.
He stressed that the president should, therefore, not continue to dress himself in borrowed garb of integrity until he cleans himself of the stinking corruption of his acolytes, family and friends under his cover.
According to him, “It is a norm that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. Buhari and his family members have entangled themselves in corruption. Mr. President’s hands can no longer be said to be clean, until he proves otherwise.”
Ologbondiyan stated categorically that Nigerians are not interested in mere rhetoric or attempts by the Buhari presidency to divert public attention from the issue at hand, but demand that Buhari, who hitherto prides himself as Mr. Integrity, squarely addresses these grave issues in person.
He stressed, “Nigerians and the whole world to note that President Buhari’s refusal to personally address this matter means consent.
“We, therefore, dare President Buhari to put forth a denial on this disclosure by our candidate and we will spare no thoughts in furnishing the public with details of his corrupt activities within and outside Nigeria.
“Our party has full details of how persons related to President Buhari, by consanguinity and affinity, have paved the way to loot trillions of naira from government agencies for corrupt acquisition of shares in major companies; purchase of expensive property within and outside Nigeria, as well as to finance their very luxury lifestyles, under Mr. President’s cover.
“In fact, no Nigerian has made more money in the last three and half years than relations of President Buhari, many of whom have found themselves controlling stupendous wealth frittered from our economy, yet our President is asking Nigerians to get ready for more hardship in the coming year.
“Furthermore, our party is privy to the facts of how these relations of the President have been hounding government agencies, major business concerns and intending foreign investors over kickbacks as well as strangulating companies that refuse to accede to their demands.”
Ologbondiyan recalled how the Buhari Presidency muted the case of the Aide of the First Lady, Mr. Baba-Inna, who was arrested in September this year, over accusations of receiving N2.5 billion from politicians, businessmen and women on behalf of the First Lady.
He said Nigerians could also recall how the Buhari presidency gagged the confession of one Amina Mohammed, paraded by the Department of State Services (DSS), who stated in public that persons close to Buhari were involved in serial fraud and looting of public resources under the official cover of the Buhari presidency.
He added, “In fact, there is incontrovertible evidence, as provided by the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai that President Buhari is not as clean as his handlers want Nigerians to believe.
“In October 4, 2010, el-Rufai accused Buhari of corruption in allowing 53 suitcases belonging to his ADC’s father to enter Nigeria unchecked at a time the country was exchanging old currency for new in 1984.
Ologbondiyan wondered why the president’s relatives continue to loot public treasury, and on the other hand asked Nigerians to prepare for more hardship next year.
In a related development, Ologbondiyan has described Buhari’s desperate corruption attack on Atiku as a mere illusion.
He disclosed this in a statement Thursday in Abuja, where he said it was unfortunate that Buhari would resort to sponsoring fabrications and false allegations against Atiku just because he has been overwhelmed by Atiku’s soaring popularity and acceptance by Nigerians.
Ologbondiyan said, “Nigerians can also recall that on December 22, 2014, President Buhari in praising Atiku Abubakar’s immense business acumen, through which he provided employment opportunities for thousands of Nigerians, described him as an “inspiration” and a man that has rendered ‘great service to Nigeria’.”
The PDP reminded Buhari that Atiku has never been charged, indicted nor convicted for any act of corruption by any competent authority whatsoever.
“Moreover, President Buhari has been in office for almost four years and has never found anything incriminatory on Atiku that can warrant his prosecution despite being hounded under the Buhari administration,” he added.
Ologbondiyan noted that the president needs to be reminded that even the Chairman of his Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, after their detailed scrutiny, announced that they found no evidence of corruption against Atiku and consequently absolved him of all allegations.
He also explained that the United States Department of Justice had, in response to enquiry by a leading Nigerian newspaper in November of 2016, stated that, after scrutiny of public records, there is no criminal case against Atiku contrary to fabrications being promoted by the Buhari presidency.