[Featured Photo: The Olusegun Obasanjo Library]
Former Vice President and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in February’s Presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, on Monday accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of been behind allegations of financial wrong-doings against the Olusegun Obasanjo Library as part of a grand strategy to rubbish the former President.
The Library has been mentioned in media reports of been a beneficiary of slush funds allegedly brought into the country to prosecute the last Presidential election.
However, in a statement from his media office, Atiku admitted that a donation was of N50 million was made to the Library to further its objecti6 in a transparent manner.
He accused the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of criminalising the donation as part of attempts to rope in the former President.
The statement from the Atiku Media Office titled, ‘On The EFCC’s Underhand Media Activities’ reads in full:
“It has come to our attention that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is feeding members of the media with deliberate falsehoods in an attempt to cause disaffection and bad blood between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his former deputy, Atiku Abubakar, on one hand, and between former President Obasanjo and Nigerians in general.
“Patriotic journalists, alarmed by the wickedness of the EFCC’s underhand and unprofessional actions, have exposed their dastardly plans to us and we are indeed disappointed at the EFCC.
“An action such as this is tantamount to a river denying its own source, since Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is the fountain of origin of the EFCC, seeing as he founded the institution and nurtured it to maturity.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Mallam Babalele Abdullahi, Atiku Abubakar’s son-in-law, did not donate any money in cash to the Olusegun Obasanjo Library. Yes, he did facilitate a donation of fifty million naira to the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, but so did many other individuals, including civic-minded traditional rulers, state Governors, bankers and captains of industry. This is because the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library is a non-governmental organisation that plays a pivotal role in promoting peace and stability in Nigeria, and that should be applauded.
“Unlike another past leader, who did not improve himself or Nigeria after leaving office, but sat down nursing grudges and plotting revenge, former President Olusegun Obasanjo improved himself and Nigeria by authoring books, founding international think tanks and engaging in peace and capacity building efforts.
“Donations to institutions set up to promote peace in Nigeria and Africa are to be commended, not criminalised. Presidential libraries in America and other parts of the world are similarly funded by donations from civic-minded individuals.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Mallam Abdullahi’s donation of fifty million naira was made via a bank transfer, in full compliance with the law. He did not donate or make any payment in cash, as the EFCC is erroneously and salaciously misleading the public. Furthermore, the sources of these funds are completely legitimate and have been conclusively proven to the EFCC. It is instructive to note that even the EFCC has not once claimed these funds to be the proceeds of any illegal activity whatsoever.
“The truth is that there is desperation on the part of the current administration to rope in former President Olusegun Obasanjo into a crime as a way of silencing his voice, which they see as the preeminent critical voice against the misrule that they have foisted on Nigerians.
“This is why they asked the Federal Inland Revenue Service to falsely and libelously include his name in a published list of tax evaders, along with the names of other Peoples Democratic Party sympathisers, such as prominent international singer and pride of Nigeria, Davido, who played a prominent role in PDP’s gubernatorial campaign in Osun state, for which he is being punished.
“We are therefore calling on Nigerians to be watchful for false and misleading stories planted in the media by the EFCC against Atiku Abubakar, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and other persons deemed to be opponents of this government.
“Let it be known that former President Olusegun Obasanjo established the EFCC to be an investigative body and not a propaganda or enforcement arm of the ruling party, as it is now being misused.
“May we also add that whenever the EFCC wish to come up with mischief, they fly their kite in The Nation Newspaper. This is now a pattern. It should be clear to Nigerians that the Presidency, APC, the EFCC, The FIRS and The Nation are now working together as five fingers of the same leprous hands.”
Recall that the Nation newspaper had published the details of the EFCC investigation of the Obasanjo Library. The story is reproduced below:
Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have visited the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) in Abeokuta, Ogun State, as part of the probe of ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar’s son-in-law and the 150 million euros cash-for-poll bribe scandal.
It was learnt that the investigators went to the Library on August 8 to authenticate the claims by one of those under probe that he gave $140,000 (about N50 million) to a library official.
Sources said the EFCC officials, accompanied by policemen, combed some offices at the expansive ex-President’s Library.
It could not be confirmed whether any document was taken away by the operatives, but nobody was arrested.
A source said: “Our operatives went to the library with some riot policemen in anticipation of a possible resistance. But there was none.
“We did our job lawfully without any inhibition. We are still investigating the case. We are screening some documents in our possession on the matter.”
The Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library was opened on March 4, 2017. It is a historic, tourist and academic centre established as a national archive for the preservation of documents and materials used by the President during his tenure between 1999 and 2007.
Atiku’s son-in-law Abdullahi Babalele is being investigated alongside others for allegedly laundering 150 million euros. The money is believed to have been spent to influence the 2019 election in which Atiku was the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate.
About 67, 950,000 euros was traced to ex-VP Atiku’s associate Mr Uyi Giwa-Osagie’s account, Babalele’s account, two slush firms and two Bureau de Change operators.
Of the 67.9m euros, Uyi’s account was credited with 26,050,00 million euros between January 9 and 28, 2019, it was learnt.
Babalele is expected to account for 41,900,000 euros.
Sources said of the cash credited to Babalele’s account, he gave about N50million ($140,000) to his childhood friend, Bashir Mohammed to deliver to an official at the Presidential Library in Abeokuta. The anti-graft agency is investigating why the money was taken to the Presidential Library.
Bashir has reportedly admitted that he delivered the cash to the Presidential Library.
A document obtained by our correspondent on the preliminary investigation reads: “That between 05/02/2018 and 27/11/2018 €41,900,000 (forty one million, nine hundred thousand euro) which sums are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities, was received by a firm linked to Babalele.
“That on February 20, 2019 Babalele called Bashir Mohammed his childhood friend and informed him that he will transfer N50million to him which should be converted to United States dollars.
“That Bashir converted the N50 million at the rate of 360 per dollar amounting to about $140,000
“That on the instruction of Babalele, Bashir took the money to Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, and delivered it to an official in cash.
“That the cash delivered is in excess of the amount authorized by the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended.
It was learnt that Bashir was taken by detectives to the Presidential Library.
Those interrogated including Babalele, Osagie and Mohammed, are on administrative bail pending the filing of a case against them.”
The EFCC gave details of how it foiled the alleged cash-for-poll laundering.
A report said: “On receipt of this intelligence, the team arrested two BDC operators, namely: Abdullahi Shehu who works with Abdullahi Munaciki of Hasbunallahu BDC, Abuja and Lawal A. Abdullahi of three Brother BDC. The team also recovered the said $1.6million but $141,000.00 had been exchanged to Naira at N358/ per dollar which amounted to N50, 500,000.00 while the balance of $1,459.000.00 USD could not easily be exchanged due to the naira scarcity in the market.
“Investigation conducted regarding the ownership as well as the source of the money so far revealed that Hasbunallahu BDC who is also the owner of Clean and Integrity Services Ltd received three transfers amounting to $5,000,000.00 on February 4 and 114, 2019, from Guernsey Trust Company Nigeria Limited which is an investment company that is being managed by one Uyiekpan Giwa-Osagie in trust on behalf of xxx.
”Investigation carried out on the accounts of Guernsey Trust Company Nig Ltd revealed that various transfers in millions of dollars and cash payments were made to various individuals and companies.”
Attempts by The Nation to speak to the ex-President failed last night.
Repeated calls to Chief Obasanjo’s spokesman Kehinde Akinyemi’s number did not go through.
Also SMS sent to Akinyemi’s phone number were not responded to