The Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria yesterday said former vice president and presidential candidate of the people Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has a case to answer over the collapse of Bank PHB.
Specifically, the federal government alleged that fresh evidence indicated that Abubakar benefited N156million from slush funds that led to the collapse of the bank.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who spoke to State House Correspondents while reacting to the US visit by the PDP presidential candidate, said Abubakar should return to the country and explain to Nigerians his role in the bankruptcy of the bank, now Keystone Bank.
Mohammed said although his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari was not perturbed by Abubakar’s visit to the US, the PDP candidate should hurry back to defend his position in the alleged corruption that led to the collapse of the bank.
“I have come to make few remarks about the recent visit of the presidential candidate of the PDP to the US. You can recall that a few weeks ago, I did issue a statement advising the US Government not to issue a visa to Atiku.
“Remember also that in that same press conference, I stated that it remains the prerogative of the US Government to issue a visa to anyone it deems fit.
“Let me say that we are not perturbed one bit that Abubakar was able to secure a visa to the US. As a matter of fact, he can go ahead and get the US Green Card, that will not save him from imminent defeat in the forthcoming election.”
The minister further said that in 2009, a memo was raised for the issuance and payment of N156 million to Abubakar’s account, insisting that the onus is for Atiku to come back and exonerate himself.
“He should come home on time to answer these questions. I want to remind Abubakar that the elections will be right here in Nigeria and not in the US. In any event, any time Abubakar returns home, he has questions to answer, following the fresh evidence that we have that he benefitted from slush funds that led to the collapse of the former Bank PHB.
“The document we have shows that he benefitted to the tune of N156 million from that slush fund. The paper which we have here stated from an internal memo on January 13, 2009, in which reads, ‘please, refer for discussion, your requested overdraft in favour of Atiku Abubakar for N156 million and deliver same to me. Please, note that it must be delivered today (January 13) on the same date.”
“Another memo was generated to confirm, ‘please, confirm that the amount stated below be issued from Claremont Management Services account’.”
“We have evidence here of the account mandate- the name of Atiku Abubakar. We also have a copy of the cheque in which the sum of N156 million was issued to Atiku Abubakar, dated January 13, 2009, and of course, we also have a statement of account within that period that confirms that this sum was actually paid into his account.
“These are fresh evidence as to his involvement in the collapse of Bank PHB, so we want him to stay as long he wants in the US, but as soon he comes back, he has to explain to the electorate and to Nigerians, what was his role in the collapse of the former Bank PHB.
But reacting to all said, the People Democratic party describe as laughable threats by the federal government to question its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar over his alleged involvements in a N156 million slush fund
In an emergency chat with newsmen in Abuja yesterday, the party said the threat was borne out of fear he (Atiku) is already coasting home to victory on February 16 presidential elections
Kola Ologbodiyan, the party’s publicity secretary put further:”while we understand that president Buhari and his dysfunctional All Progressive Congress (APC) are jittery over Atiku Abubakar's soaring popularity ahead of the elections, it is reprehensible that Mr. president would descend abysmally low to fabricate outright lies and falsehood in a bid to discredit a more qualified and acceptable presidential candidate
The PDP stated that Atiku Abubakar has nothing to do with the alleged issues leading to the collapse of Bank PHB, adding that, “he is an honest and hard-working Nigerian who has no skeleton of any sort in his cupboard, unlike President Buhari, who is now entangled in series of corruption allegations.”
The PDP further stated that “even the Chairman of President Buhari’s Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, had since told the world that the Buhari Presidency has searched everywhere and could not find anything incriminating on Atiku Abubakar.”
The opposition party said: “The world already knows that this attempt to mudsling our Presidential candidate is coming out of President Buhari’s frustration over Atiku Abubakar’s successful outing in the United States, for which the Buhari Presidency has gone into full hallucination.”
“This is in addition to their frenzied face-saving effort to divert public attention from President Buhari’s humiliating appearances in the respective rallies and Television shows he has had,” the party added.
The PDP challenged the President “to open the books and provide an explanation for the N9 trillion stolen under his watch as Minister of Petroleum Resources as detailed in the leaked NNPC memo.”