By Deji Elumoye
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has risen in strong defence of the former Head of State, General Yakubu (rtd), who was accused by a British parliamentarian of looting the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) while in office from 1967 to 1975.
Gowon was accused of looting half of the CBN by a United Kingdom member of parliament, Tom Tugendhat, during the hearing of a petition against the Nigerian government at a committee meeting of the parliament.
The Forum in a statement issued yesterday and jointly signed by Chief Ayo Adebanjo (South-west), Chief Edwin Clark (Chairman) South-South, Chief John Nwodo (South-east) and Dr. Pogu Bitrus (Middle Belt), declared that “while we stand for holding leaders accountable for their stewardship, we will not support maligning people without facts.
“We stand for integrity in public life and will not shield corruption but we are not aware of any such accusation against General Gowon since he was overthrown 45 years ago.
“We therefore call on the British lawmaker who was born a year after the coup of 1975 in Nigeria to check the facts again and do the needful if he was wrong or back up the allegation if he has any evidence to retain his credibility and the institutional integrity of the British Parliament”.
The elder statesmen further posited that:
“With the notoriety of Nigerian rulers to help themselves with public till, we ordinarily would not have been bothered with such accusation.
“We recall that General Gowon was overthrown while at the OAU conference in Kampala in 19 75 from where he moved to London where he became a student for years.
“How he could have moved such money when on the run is difficult to comprehend. If he had half of the CBN in a foreign bank, going to school would probably not have been his pre-occupation”.