Friday, November 15, 2013

N40 billion bribe: Jonathan denies Sule Lamido’s claim of minister’s involvement

The governor said he personally alerted the president.
President Goodluck Jonathan scrambled a swift rebuttal Friday to a
shocking allegation by Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido, who accused
Mr. Jonathan of failing to act on credible information about a
government minister receiving $250 million (N37.5 billion) bribe from
an oil company.
In an interview on the Hausa service of Abuja based Vision (92.1) FM
radio on Thursday, Mr. Lamido said he personally drew the attention of
the president to the bribery involving an unnamed minister. Mr.
Jonathan blatantly refused to act, the governor said.
"Do you know that recently a top minister received a $250 million
(N39.7 billion) bribe for himself… he (the minister) is in the
cabinet; he is in this current regime; he knows and I know, and I told
the President," Mr. Lamido alleged.
In a response Friday, Mr. Jonathan said the claim was "grossly
irresponsible, false and mischievous".
The president's spokesperson, Reuben Abati, said in a statement that
Mr. Lamido should name the minister and provide evidence to back his
claim, failing which he should be prepared to apologize to Mr.
Jonathan for "the unscrupulous, reckless and thoughtless peddling of
arrant falsehood".
"The presidency views the patently bogus allegation …as an
unacceptable and callous attempt to unjustly impugn the integrity of
President Jonathan and cast aspersions on the seriousness of his
administration's efforts to curb corruption," he said.
The incriminating exchange about corruption, rare between a Nigerian
president and a serving governor, appeared to be a radical shift from
the usual conservative remarks often on display when official graft is
discussed publicly.
While President Jonathan insists his administration is committed to
addressing corruption, many Nigerians have pointed to relevant dismal
corruption statistics to disprove that claim. They have accused the
president of failing to act decisively on the simplest of graft cases
confronting his administration.
The president is currently facing widespread criticism for failing to
take a firm decision over a N255 million armoured car scandal
involving the aviation minister, Stella Oduah.
But the comment also came as a fresh twist to the crisis rocking the
Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in which Mr. Lamido, alongside six
other governors, is challenging Mr. Jonathan's choice for the
leadership of the party; and have also asked the president to jettison
his plan for a re-election in 2015.
Mr. Lamido raised the allegation against the president while seeking
to dispel a question about the possibility of being of accused of
corruption as punishment for his rebellious ways in the party.
He said he had gone past being intimidated.
"I'm past the fear of investigation since even my son was arrested on
charges of stealing N5 million… everything that can be done for me to
be scared has already been done," he said.
Two of Mr. Lamido's children were on Friday re-arrestedby operatives
of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on allegations
they helped their father steal about N10 billion of state funds.
It is not clear how the arrests are related to the party's crisis though.

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