Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the immediate past President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki saturday tackled the All Progressives Congress (APC) for linking them to a suspected cyber-criminal, Ramon Olorunwa Abbas (a.k.a. Hushpuppi).
APC’s call on anti-graft agencies to investigate reports linking some PDP leaders and Hushpuppi stoked stern reactions from Abubakar and Saraki with both of them claiming that the ruling party was playing dirty politics.
In a statement by its spokesperson, Yekini Nabena yesterday, the APC asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and other sister agencies to investigate some PDP leaders and financiers.
The APC noted that the PDP leadership turned Dubai into their strategic meeting place ahead of the 2019 general elections in Nigeria, adding that Hushpuppi’s affinity with the PDP leadership was not mere coincidence.
It said reports of the criminal conspiracy linking the top echelon of the PDP with Hushpuppi who was recently arrested along with associates in Dubai and extradited to the United States 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.
It said: “At different times, “Hushpuppi” was 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; Senator Dino Melaye among other PDP stalwarts.”
The ruling party said while relevant authorities investigate the nature of their relationship and business partnership, he also challenged the PDP leadership to do the same by opening up on the nature of the relationship, particularly the kind of services Hushpuppi provided them.
Reacting to the allegations through his media aide, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki accused the APC of playing irresponsible and cheap politics that had weakened ongoing efforts against corruption.
He said: “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, 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.
“Also, since the arrest of those cybercrime 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. At this point, we call on the APC to rein in the so-called Yekini Nabena and compel him to desist from making and circulating such malicious claims.”
Abubakar, though his media adviser, Paul Ibe, said his principal didn’t meet with the suspected cybercriminal, hedging that it was only “a mere photo-op.”
“We would advise the APC and Mr. Nabena to be very mindful of such senseless statements in the future especially as the case under reference is a subject of litigation in another country,” the statement read.
“Had they been more sensitive, they would have come to terms with the reality that the case is a national embarrassment – not something to cheer about for any political blackmail.”
On Friday, Hushpuppi, whose real name is Raymond Abass, was charged with the conspiracy to commit money laundering before a United States court, one for which he could get a maximum jail term of 20 years if convicted.