Former Vice-President of Nigeria and a presidential aspirant under the All Progressive Congress, Atiku Abubakar had revealed that former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu has personally pleaded for forgiveness following the allegations of corruption levelled against him in 2006 by the commission.
Speaking exclusively with The Cable over the weekend, he said when Ribadu was running for president in 2011, he came and asked him for forgiveness over the episode which damaged the former VP politically.
“Nuhu (Ribadu) came to my house to apologise because he was running for president. I asked him, ‘Nuhu, I forgive everyone, and I forgive you, but will you go back to the public and apologise about all the lies you told about me?’ He was then concerned about his reputation. “Of course, I was wondering if he cared about my own reputation when he was bearing false witness against me and illegally locking my friends up trying to force them to generate evidence of corruption against me.”
The EFCC had sometime in 2006, alleged that the former vice president had abused his office by directing the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) to place millions of dollars in two banks in order to siphon the funds to his personally desired businesses.
Following the commission’s indictment to stop Abubakar from contesting in the 2007 presidential election,former president Olusegun Obasanjo had set up an administrative panel of inquiry led by Ignatius Ayua which later concurred to the indictment and him from contesting.
Uncomfortable with the development, Abubakar had dragged the EFCC to court too seek redress where the ban on him was lifted and he subsequently took active part n the elections though he lost.
He asserted that the corruption allegations levelled against him were started after his rift with Obasanjo adding that it was the handiwork of his political opponents who are bent on ruining his political career.
Meanwhile, the scandal gave Abubakar who had claims to be the most investigated Nigerian a bad name in his political career which he still struggles with till date.
Reacting to the question of the wrong impression people have about him that he wishes to correct, he said, “It would definitely be the perception that I corruptly enriched myself during my tenure as vice-president. This is especially because I’m the most investigated politician in Nigeria’s history. “At the height of my rift with my former boss, several investigations were ordered against me, yet none came up with anything.”
Also speaking extensively on the former director-general of the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), Nasir el-Rufai, Abubakar recalled that as the chairman of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), he supervised el-Rufai and BPE from 1999 to 2003.
It was also learnt that El-Rufai had appeared before a senate committee to testify that Atiku never interfered in his work at BPE in a bid to refute the claims that the former VP enriched himself through the privatisation programme.
He said, “He went under oath at the national assembly to testify that I had never made any requests or acquired anything during his tenure at the BPE. Yet, after my disagreements with my boss (Obasanjo), he went and wrote a book that I was corrupt.”
“Long before politics, I was a successful businessman. I first declared my assets in 1993. I was a multimillionaire in dollars. My company, NICOTES, was already the top oil services company in Nigeria far back as then. I was not a poor person because I worked hard and took risks. I had enough money to buy as many pairs of shoes as I wanted,” Abubakar added.
Revealing that nobody accused him of corruption when he played a key role in the funding of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when it was founded in 1998, he said, “In 1998, I helped register the PDP. I spent over N500m getting the party sorted out. I rented the party secretariat and later bought it for the party. I was already a co-founder of one of the most profitable companies in Nigeria before 1999. I was never accused of corruption before my disagreement with my boss (Obasanjo).”