STATEMENT BY THE APC UK LEADER AND CONVENER OF PMB VOLUNTEERS, PRINCE ADE OMOLE, AT A WORLD PRESS CONFERENCE HELD IN LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press.
I am compelled to call this Press Conference due to our serious concerns about the latest development in our dear country of origin Nigeria.
1. Our concerns bother on the attitude and disposition of few western countries to Nigeria as seen in their open support for a candidate in an election where Nigerians are expected to choose their leader freely through balloting.
2. It is very clear to all stakeholders that the Western world, most especially the United States of America and the United Kingdom are supporting the candidate of the opposition party Mr Atiku Abubakar against President Muhammadu Buhari.
3. As Nigerians living in the United Kingdom, we consider it imperative to shed light on the situation in Nigeria and why we consider the systemic support of the UK government to the opposition party’s candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, unhelpful and dangerous.
4. Nigeria has been bedevilled by corruption since the return to democratic rule in 1999.
5. The country earned a staggering sum of over $1 trillion dollars from oil in the past two decades but has nothing to show for it. The money was simply stolen by the ruling elite.
6. A former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, once described Nigeria as a “fantastically corrupt” country.
7. Atiku Abubakar was Vice President of Nigeria in 8 out of the 20 years.
8. In that period he (Atiku) constitutionally superintended over the economy and privatisation programme of the government. In other words he was in charge of the first 8 years of the malfeasance.
9. Atiku Abubakar has been named and linked to multiple corruption cases in Nigeria and in the United States.
10. A few weeks ago he was described by The Guardian International Newspaper as an “established thief”, while the Bloomberg called him a “kleptocrat”.
11. Atiku has prominently featured in the corruption trial of former U.S. Congressman William Jefferson, Jefferson was accused of offering bribe to Atiku to use his position as a vice president to facilitate the expansion of his technology business in Nigeria. Jefferson was convicted in the US in 2009 and sentenced to 13 years in prison.
12. In another case, a U.S. Senate Subcommittee with the cooperation of the FBI, alleged that Atiku’s wife Jennifer, helped him transfer more than $40 million in “suspect funds” into the United States from offshore shell companies to establish a University.
13. Almost $2 million of that money were bribes paid by the German technology company Siemens AG, according to Senate investigators. Siemens pleaded guilty to bribery charges in 2008 and agreed to pay a $1.6 billion fine.
14. We need to remind the UK and the entire world that the candidate of the opposition party Mr Atiku Abubakar was banned from entering the United States for over a decade after he featured prominently in two corruption cases. The ban became an albatross for his Presidential campaign.
15. However in a dramatic twist of events he was recently let into the US for two to three days, in a suspicious manner, after paying millions of dollars to a lobbying firm with a strong link to USA President Donald Trump. This seems to reinforce the belief that there is a tactical support from leading western governments.
16. Let us remind ourselves that the Guardian Newspaper once reported that “Britain is a key destination for corrupt officials’ ill-gotten wealth”.
17. In 2016, President Buhari’s anti-corruption chief said $37bn of stolen money had been routed through London in two years.
18. We are concerned that the support of the UK and others seem to be confirming this key allegation against the UK and in supporting such a candidate and wanting to tilt the election in favour of such a shady and corrupt individual; it negates the very principles of democracy and good governance. This is unacceptable.
19. The swift development witnessed in the infrastructure of the country, a much needed foundation for the rapid development of the country, will be truncated if Atiku comes to power as he has proudly vouched to share the country’s wealth amongst his friends and cronies. This was what he did between 1999 and 2007 as Vice President who was constitutionally empowered to superintend over the economy.
20. President Buhari’s achievements in the area of graft-fighting are monumental. Under President Buhari, two former governors have been convicted and currently serving time in prison while several millions of Naira have been recovered and numerous properties confiscated. For the first time in Nigeria, recoveries from looters form part of the national budget revenue for 2019.
Likewise, the anti-corruption agency, EFCC has prosecuted and won over 800 cases since the inception of the APC-led administration. Atiku has promised to reverse the trend by granting amnesty to corrupt individuals and officials. He will simply release those governors and convicted criminals from jail and re-energise corruption in Nigeria.
21. Finally, we understand the right of the UK to support any candidate of their choice, but we want to remind them that Nigeria is a sovereign country and with sovereign integrity. *The election of leaders in Nigeria should be left in the hands of Nigerians*.