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General News of Sunday, 15 January 2023


HEDA writes EFCC, CCB to probe Atiku over embezzlement allegation

Atiku Abubakar Atiku Abubakar

A civil society organisation, the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), says it has asked for a thorough investigation into the interest of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, in a firm allegedly used to embezzle government’s funds.

HEDA said in a statement on Sunday that its chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, had petitioned the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) requesting a thorough investigation into Atiku’s roles in incorporating the Special-Purpose Vehicle (SPV), Marine Float Limited.

It specifically urged the CCB to “diligently investigate” the assets declarations submitted by Atiku “and swiftly release its report of investigation to prevent immunity for corrupt individuals to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. “

The group said Atiku, in an audio recording, confessed to how he advised the then President Olusegun Obasanjo to name three individuals – Oyewole Fasawe, Andy Uba and a politician from Borno State (now late) as directors or subscribers of the company he was then trying to set up.

The statement said the two-page petition sent by HEDA to both the EFCC and the CCB had the title, ‘Petition Against Atiku Abubakar for Incorporating a Special-Purpose Vehicle (SPV); Marine Float Limited to Embezzle Government Funds.’

“According to the Peoples Gazette report published on 9th January 2023, Atiku Abubakar incorporated three companies, Special-purpose Vehicle, to embezzle government’s funds through contract award. One of the companies incorporated for that purpose is Marine Float,” the statement said citing details of the petition.

Viral audio, reactionsA now-viral recorded audio of the former Vice President which was released by one of his longtime close associates, Mike Achimugu, had Atiku confessing to having accepted over N100 million bribe in the form of a donation through the controversial firm.

The audio recording has stirred political reactions and comments from Nigerians across social media platforms.

In its reaction, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) had urged Atiku to come clean on his confessions about how he allegedly colluded with his former boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo, to steal from the Nigerian treasury, using the SPV after becoming Vice-President in 1999.

When contacted by our reporter on Sunday for comments, a member of the Atiku/Okowa presidential campaign team, Daniel Bwala, declined to speak on the matter.

“I cannot speak today. I work from Monday till Saturday,” Mr Bwala said.

Call for probesHowever, HEDA said the self-confession contained in the viral audio has confirmed not only the rotten state of public offices in Nigeria but also the attempts by the commission to investigate some suspected corruption without uncovering Atiku’s beneficial ownership of those companies.

The group further called on EFCC to diligently investigate the revelation and reopen the reported investigation to establish the beneficial interest of Atiku in Marine Float, and other Shell companies incorporated for the purpose of corruption and diversion of public funds.

“We look forward to swift action on this petition and the release of the report of investigation to the public before the upcoming general election.

Similarly, the group urged the CCB to not only investigate Atiku’s assets declarations but to also investigate the use of a special-purpose vehicle (SPV) to promote corruption while in office.

The petition noted that the case is an indication that Nigeria has been under siege from the highest office and there is no statute of limitation on criminal matters.