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THROWBACK SIGNAL | Action Congress (AC) Attacks Buhari Over Claims That Abacha Never Stole

President Muhammadu Buhari

Three former Heads of State who defended one of their own, the late Gen. Sani Abacha, against the common belief that he looted the treasury were under fire yesterday.

Generals Ibrahim Babangida, Muhammadu Buhari and Abdulsalami Abubakar were hit by a hail of criticisms for describing the claim that the late Gen. Abacha was a thief as a fairy tale. They spoke in Kano at the 10th anniversary lecture in memory of the late Head of State.

But those who reacted to the comment yesterday said the ex-leaders were standing a fact of history on its head.

The Action Congress (AC) described the threesome’s comment as “a disgusting case of revisionism.” In a statement issued in Abuja by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said it was ridiculous and curious for the former Heads of State to have waited 10 years before finding their voices to defend Abacha.

The AC also said the suggestion by Gen. Abdulsalami that past administrations should not be probed smacked of self-preservation rather than patriotism. It added that heeding such advice would thwart all efforts to enthrone the rule of law, due process, probity and good governance.

According to the AC, Nigeria would need to return looted funds repatriated by some foreign countries and apologise to those countries as well as the Abacha family, if the ex-leaders’ comment were of any value.

Only last week, the government of Switzerland said it had returned all of the $505million (N59.05billion) looted funds stashed in its banks by the late Gen. Abacha. The repatriated money is part of an estimated $3billion of public funds believed to have been stored up by the late Head of State in banks in Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Britain and Luxembourg, besides Switzerland.

AC said yesterday: “We are sure that those countries will be laughing at Nigeria now. What a shame! If the former leaders’ comments that the late Abacha ran one of the best administrations in this country were to be taken seriously, then the trial of (Abacha’s former Chief Security Officer, Col. Hamza) Al-Mustapha and others for atrocities allegedly committed during the Abacha regime should be stopped forthwith, while the accused should all be granted national honours to mitigate the suffering occasioned by their prolonged trial.

“We are worried by the aggressive but belated defence offered by these leaders, who incidentally all passed the batons of powers among themselves – the late Abacha inclusive! We are compelled to ask: what is their agenda? What are they up to?

“Where were they when former President Olusegun Obasanjo was telling whoever cared to listen how billions of dollars in public funds were spirited to foreign bank accounts by the late Head of State? Why have they suddenly found their voice now that Obasanjo has left office?’’

The party noted that Gen. Babangida and the others were close to ex-President Obasanjo, either as co-former military leaders or as members of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); “yet none of them dared raise a voice against the allegations of massive looting of public treasury which he levelled against Abacha.” It advised the former leaders, by virtue of their highly-respected positions, to take care in their utterances so as not to send wrong signals to Nigerians and the world community.

The Lagos State chapter of the AC described the former Heads of State’s comment as “a desperate attempt by former despots to buy the reprieve of history for one of their ilk, together with whom they ruined Nigeria.”

Former Secretary-General of Afenifere, Mr. Ayo Opadokun, said the generals’ comments signposted “an unfortunate collaboration of three otherwise respected Nigerians.”

He said: “Nigerians did not witness Abacha’s regime just last week. The Swiss government said it had returned all Nigeria’s money stolen by Abacha. It is unfortunate that these Nigerians would go to the extent of endorsing Abacha as a saint; truth cannot be hidden. Majority of Nigerians are not with them on this.”

One-time National Chairman of the Alliance for Democracy, Alhaji Abdulkadir Daiyabu, said: “I am not surprised that they are saying a thing like that; they are all military men.

Abacha and IBB removed Buhari and after keeping him for long in the cooler, they came out to say they did not find anything against him.

“When IBB stepped aside, it was Abacha who set up a panel of inquiry on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) headed by Pius Okigbo, which accused IBB of stealing $12.3billion from the oil windfall. It was that Okigbo panel report which indicted IBB and also came out to tell us that Abacha looted half of the country’s foreign reserve, which we all know as the Abacha loot today. He also accused Abubakar of stealing everything that was left in foreign reserve. I am not surprised that they are saying so.”

A Lagos lawyer, Mr. Babatunde Oshilaja, said: “The questions Nigerians would want the three of them to answer are: who constituted them into a board of inquiry, where did the board sit and how many Nigerians submitted memoranda to them?

“If they cannot answer these questions, they are enemies of Nigerians and should keep shut and wait for the new Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) boss, Mrs. Farida Waziri.

“Their statement is diametrically opposed to the opinion of the Justices of the Supreme Court in the case of the Attorney-General of Ekiti State and that of the federation. The Supreme Court in that case identified those who have the power to legislate against corruption in the country.

“Before they constitute themselves into a board of inquiry, they should go and acquaint themselves with that Supreme Court decision. All what they are doing is that they want to save their skin, because Waziri has said there was not going to be a hiding place for any of them who has a case to answer.

“We have evidence from Switzerland and England that Abacha looted the nation’s fund, and some are already being repatriated home.”

While the criticisms raged, Gen. Abubakar yesterday opened another can of worms: he advised Nigerians to concentrate on the task of nation-building and not dissipate energy on revisiting the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election.

Speaking ahead of the commemoration of the 15th year anniversary of the poll controversially annulled by Gen. Babangida, despite a consensus that it was the freest and fairest in Nigeria’s history, Abubakar said: “We cannot keep crying over the June 12 issue. It has happened and all we need to do now is to concentrate on moving the nation forward.”

He spoke with journalists in Shonga, Edu Local Government Area of Kwara State, where he was to inspect facilities at the state government-backed New Nigeria Commercial Farm Project operated by white Zimbabwean farmers.

The former Head of State also argued that it was not enough to review the 1999 Constitution; the focus should be on implementation. He said: “Definitely the constitutional review committee will come forward with some recommendations, but the workability of such recommendations will depend very much on their implementation.”

Gen. Abubakar’s administration wrote the 1999 Constitution that is being reviewed. He maintained that every Nigerian has a stake in making whatever the review committee comes up with implementable.

Source: The Nation



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