The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) and the Atiku Media Office are locked in a war of words over the former’s allegation that presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar was planning to bring illicit funds into the country to outshine the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Messrs Niyi Akinsiju and Cassidy Madueke, secretary and chairman and secretary of BMO respectively said that there was heightened desperation to bring money stashed away abroad to spend during the presidential campaign.
BMO therefore urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian Customs Service NCS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to watch out for illegal funds’ transfer across the borders.
“We have it on good authority that the PDP and its presidential candidate are making efforts to bring in public funds, including those from recent sales of assets in Angola which were acquired with illicit funds.
“We also know that the former vice president has made promissory transaction commitments on a number of strategic national assets, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and a percentage holding in the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas to a foreign syndicate.
“All these are out of desperation, and as a result of his inability to raise funds from governors elected on PDP platform, many of whom are themselves locked in stiff battles for their seats,” said BMO.
The group explained that the move by the PDP presidential candidate followed stringent measures put in place by the CBN and EFCC to ensure sanity in the banking sector.
It added “It is clear to Atiku Abubakar and the PDP elements that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has put in place a system that has made it difficult for the type of the situation in 2015 where former Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, could warehouse $115,000,000, which was then shared among party officials to influence electoral officials.
“So these opposition elements are now working out a more crooked way of bringing in money through the borders in order to circumvent the system before and during the February 2019 elections.”
But Atiku’s spokesman, Mr. Paul Ibe reacted saying the PDP presidential candidate has a reputation of blocking the transfer of illicit funds.
He described the allegation as another “infantile outburst that tells more about the accuser than Atiku Abubakar.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, history shows that rather than smuggle in looted cash, Waziri Atiku Abubakar has a record of preventing looted funds from being smuggled into Nigeria.
“In 1984, it was Atiku Abubakar, as head of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Command of the NCS and Excise Department that stopped the ADC of the then military head of state, Muhammadu Buhari, from smuggling in 53 suitcases of looted money into the country.
“Young Nigerians and millennials, who may not be aware of this incident, will do well to Google it. Only the guilty are afraid,” said Ibe.
He quoted what Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai said of the controversial suitcases, adding that Atiku had survived all the traps set for him because he has nothing to hide.
“Atiku Abubakar’s plane was searched, his accounts have been perused and his businesses have been thoroughly investigated with a fine tooth and nothing remotely corrupt or illegal has been found.
“And while they are at it, we urge them to tell Nigerians those behind Etisalat and Keystone Bank and how they suddenly possessed such wealth overnight,” Atiku’s spokesman added.