As the planned national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) draws near, a series of controversies have surrounded the event.
These controversies range from members taking the party to court over the legality of the Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Convention Committee to the Director-General of the Progressives Governors Forum, Salihu Lukman, resigning from his position.
Another controversy surrounding the national convention is that of the aspirants that will be contesting to be the national chairman of the party. Some of the aspirants have corruption allegations hanging over them.
With the APC governors on Sunday fixing February 26 as the convention date, below are some of the aspirants facing corruption allegations.
Former Governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Tanko Al-Makura is one of the leading aspirants in the contest. Al-Makura governed the state from 2011 to 2019. Due to his close relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari, the Senator is rumoured to be one of the favourites for the top position.
However, he has also been on the EFCC radar in recent times along with his wife. Last year he visited the EFCC headquarters a couple of times to answer questions on money laundering running into billions of naira. The former governor, however, said he was only invited by the EFCC but never detained.
One of the top contenders for the APC chairmanship position is the former governor of Zamfara State and the lawmaker representing Zamfara West in the National Assembly, Senator Abdulaziz Yari. Yari was the governor of the North West state between 2011 and 2019 before he was elected into the Senate.
The former governor has been a regular guest of the EFCC. In a court document filed in 2017, the EFCC stated that it received intelligence in January 2017 alleging “conspiracy, criminal misappropriation of public funds involving the sum of N19,439,225,871.11 out of the Paris Club refunds made by the Federal Government in favour of the 36 states of the federation”. The commission had in the court filing, sought an order of forfeiture of N500m and $500,000 allegedly recovered from Mr Yari.
Ali Modu-Sheriff was governor of Borno State in the North-East between 2003 and 2011. A founding member of the APC, Sheriff defected to the PDP ahead of the 2015 elections and later served as the acting chairman of the party in 2016. In 2018 he returned to the APC.
Sheriff has also been under investigation by the EFCC for nearly a decade and has been detained several times for allegedly mismanaging public funds while he was governor. In 2016 he was grilled for allegedly receiving N40m out of the N23bn funds disbursed by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alsion-Madueke. Sheriff’s penchant for switching political parties could work against him.
Isa Yuguda was governor of Bauchi State, North-East, between 2007 and 2015 as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party. Although his publicity has not been as pronounced as others, he told journalists last month that “I confirm that I have declared an interest. But I am still making consultations before my final decision”. Yuguda joined politics after reaching the pinnacle of his career as Managing Director of the defunct NAL Merchant Bank. He also served as Minister of State for Transport and later aviation in former President Olusegun’s administration.
Yuguda is also on the EFCC radar. His successor, ex-Governor Mohammed Abubakar, launched a probe into his administration, alleging that he spent N6.181bn as security votes within a period of four months in 2015 during his tenure. The state cited a curious withdrawal of N2,191, 248,744.71 within 10 days under the guise of security votes. Yuguda’s house was seized by the EFCC. However, nothing has been heard of his case since he joined the APC in December 2018.
Danjuma Goje was Governor of Gombe State between 2003 and 2011 as a member of the PDP. After leaving office, he spent eight years battling corruption charges levelled against him by the EFCC but in 2019, after 17 charges were struck out by the court while two were still pending, the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation controversially withdrew the case in 2019 during the race for the Senate Presidency when Goje stepped down for the Presidency’s anointed candidate, Senator Ahmad Lawan.
Goje, who had been engaged in an intense feud with Governor Inuwa Yahaya in recent months, recently buried the hatchet with the governor after the national leadership of the party intervened.
George Akume was governor of Benue State, North-Central between 1999 and 2007 as a member of the PDP. He soon became a subject of an EFCC investigation for allegedly diverting billions of naira in public funds and was detained by the commission. His bail was, however, taken by a retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Farida Waziri.
After his tenure as governor, Akume went on to become a senator and now Minister of Special Duties in President Buhari’s cabinet. Recently, his godson turned foe, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, asked the EFCC to revisit his alleged corruption case and pursue it to a legal conclusion.