SPV Allegations: 2023 Presidency And Atiku’s Fate
As the February 25 presidential election approaches, the standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has been enmeshed in corruption allegations.
Naija News reports that the former Vice President has faced series of corruption allegations such as the Simens bribery scandal and the Thomas Jefferson trial, among others.
Atiku’s past is so steep in corruption that he was made a crucial example in a worldwide investigation into illicit dealings carried out by the United States Senate to the extent that he was dubbed a poster boy for corruption.
In a report, titled: Keeping Corruption out of the United States, Atiku was reportedly found culpable of bringing in tens of millions of dollars in ‘suspect funds’ into the United States. The PDP flagbearer is one of four ‘case studies’ profiled in the report.
He was profiled alongside such other notorious figures as the late Omar Bongo, President of Gabon for 41 years; international arms dealer, Pierre Falcone; and Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, son of the President of Equatorial Guinea, and current Vice President of Equatorial Guinea.
In the Thomas Jefferson trial, the PDP presidential candidate was accused of receiving hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars in bribes to enable an American firm linked to the now-convicted former U.S. federal lawmaker, Thomas Jefferson, secure a broadband contract in Nigeria between early and mid-2000s.
Atiku was also fingered in the Siemens bribery scandal, in which the German multinational conglomerate reportedly admitted paying over $2 million in bribes to the former Vice President through one of his wives. The latest corruption allegations against Atiku was made by his former media aide and whistleblower, Michael Achimugu, on January 8, 2023.
Achimugu, who claimed to have worked closely with the former Vice President for years, has been releasing series of videos tagged “AtikuGate” to expose the alleged corrupt past of his former boss to educate Nigerians on the dangers of voting him as their next president.
According to Achimugu, Atiku collected N100 million from the convicted former Governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, from the N1.16 billion ecological fund released to the state by the Ecological Fund Office that was being chaired by Atiku at the time.
Marine Float Limited, one of the phony companies (SPVs) said to have been used by Atiku to divert public funds during the Obasanjo administration between 1999 to 2007, operated illegally as it was not registered as a body corporate until 2017
Achimugu also revealed how one of Atiku’s friends appropriated a media company he set up with billions of naira.
He also alleged that both Atiku and former President Olusegun Obasanjo used Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) to siphon public funds when he served as vice president between 1999 and 2007.
Following the allegations, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), in a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes and Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practice and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) called for the arrest, interrogation, and prosecution of the PDP flagbearer.
According to the Chief Spokesman of the APC PCC, Festus Keyamo, Atiku should be arrested and prosecuted for offences against the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, Money Laundering, Criminal Breach of Trust and Criminal Misappropriation, and Conspiracy.
Also, the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) advised Atiku to withdraw from the presidential race in the face of the alleged corruption allegations.
Reacting in a statement personally signed by him on January 19, Atiku denied any wrongdoing, saying the Obasanjo administration in which he served as the Vice President has been adjudged as the best so far since the country’s return to democracy in 1999.
Will all these allegations work against the PDP flag bearer as the citizens get ready to elect a new President on February 25th?
Speaking with Naija News, Chairman of the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), Olanrewaju Suraju, said the chance of the PDP flagbearer in the forthcoming presidential poll is slim due to the corruption allegations leveled against him, adding that Nigeria can’t afford to have a President who has baggage.
Suraju stated that HEDA has filed a petition with the EFCC and ICPC against Atiku for allegedly siphoning funds from government coffers while he was in power.
HEDA boss concluded that the SPV scandal is an indication that Nigeria has been under siege from the highest office and there is no statute of limitation on criminal matters and called on CCB to diligently investigate the allegation against the asset declarations submitted by Atiku.
He said: “The former Vice President’s self-confession has not only confirmed the rotten state of public offices in Nigeria but also further confirmed the attempt of the commission to investigate some suspected corruption without uncovering Atiku’s beneficial ownership of those companies.
“We also called on the anti-graft commission 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 corruption and diversion of public funds.
“We look forward to swift action on this petition and release of the report of investigation to the public before the upcoming general election.”