- Saraki: Your statement is dirty, cheap and irresponsible
Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), and sister agencies to investigate money-laundering reports, allegedly, linking some Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders and an online fraudster, Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, also known as “Hushpuppi”.
But in a swift reaction, former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, described the ruling party’s statement as dirty, cheap and irresponsible politics.
Hushpuppi was recently arrested alongside his associates in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and extradited to the United States to face trial over cyber-enabled fraud and Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes.
But Deputy National Publicity Secretary of APC, Mr. Yekini Nabena, in a statement issued Saturday, said Hushpuppi’s case should be a matter of serious worry to relevant authorities in Nigeria. Nabena recalled that the PDP leadership had turned Dubai into a “strategic” meeting place ahead of the 2019 general election, adding that Hushpuppi’s affinity with the PDP leadership is not a mere coincidence.
The APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary stated, “Reports of the criminal conspiracy linking the top echelon of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, also known as ‘Ray Hushpuppi’, who was recently arrested along with associate(s) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and extradited to the United States of America to face trial over cyber-enabled fraud and Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes should be a matter of serious interest to relevant authorities in Nigeria.
“We note that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has already declared the arraigned Instagram celebrity wanted over fraud allegations. However, the EFCC, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), and other sister agencies must investigate money laundering reports linking some PDP leaders and financiers to the Dubai-based international criminal ring.
“At different times, ‘Hushpuppi’ has been photographed in Dubai meeting with the PDP’s 2019 presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; former Senate President, Bukola Saraki; former Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; and Senator Dino Melaye, among other PDP stalwarts.”
Nabena challenged the PDP leadership to open up on the nature of the relationship between them and the arrested fraudster, particularly, the kind of services Hushpuppi provided them. He said in the lead-up to the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, APC was renewing calls against monetised elections and vote buying schemes, which it alleged PDP had serially deployed in elections.
“We call on relevant authorities to up their guard to prevent these practices that threaten the sanctity of our elections. The people’s will and votes should determine elections, not illicit money used to buy votes,” Nabena stated.
However, Saraki, in a statement issued Saturday by his media aide, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, described the statement by the APC as irresponsible and cheap politics, noting that he has no form of association with the suspect, Hushpuppi, and does not know him in any way.
Olaniyonu stated, “The statement credited to the APC, the ruling party in our country, is one of the ways by which our anti-graft agencies are weakened and why the fight against corruption in the country is often viewed with suspicion by the international community.
“This is because when these cyber-crime suspects were operating freely and openly displaying wealth, the APC saw nothing bad in their activities. Also, the party at that time did not deem it necessary to call on the anti-graft agencies to investigate their activities.
“Since the arrest of those cyber crime suspects and the subsequent damage to the image and the economy of Nigeria as well as the crisis it created for Nigerians engaged in lawful businesses across the world, the ruling party had been muted. The only time the APC deemed it necessary to make a statement was when it thought it should play dirty, cheap and irresponsible politics.
“Dr. Saraki is the only political leader who has publicly made a statement through an Op-Ed article published in the Daily Trust newspaper of July 1, 2020 titled ‘Cyber Criminals: Confronting The Few Who Dent Many’, and this opinion article had been widely circulated online and on other platforms.
“In that article, he strongly condemned the activities of these cyber criminals and called on the law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders to make decisive interventions to checkmate their activities. He has also got a research institution, the Politeia Institute, whose board he chairs, to commence a research on the best ways to tackle the menace.
“Such a noble intervention in tackling a menace is what Dr. Saraki believes in, not mudslinging and playing politics at the expense of the nation’s image.
“At this point, we call on the APC leadership to rein in the so-called Yekini Nabena and compel him to desist from making and circulating such malicious, odious and offensive claims.”