Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar says the Buhari administration is desperate to accuse ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo of a crime so as to silence him.
In a statement issued on Monday, Atiku’s media office said the inclusion of Obasanjo’s name in the list of tax defaulters by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) was to blackmail him.
It said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was feeding the media with falsehood to cause disaffection between Obasanjo and his former deputy.
“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is feeding members of the media with deliberate falsehoods in an attempt to cause disaffection and bad blood between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his former deputy, Atiku Abubakar, on one hand, and between former President Obasanjo and Nigerians in general,’’ the statement read.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Mallam Babalele Abdullahi, Atiku Abubakar’s son-in-law, did not donate any money in cash to the Olusegun Obasanjo Library. Yes, he did facilitate a donation of fifty million naira to the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, but so did many other individuals, including civic-minded traditional rulers, state Governors, bankers and captains of industry.
“This is because the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library is a non-governmental organisation that plays a pivotal role in promoting peace and stability in Nigeria, and that should be applauded.’’
Referring to Buhari, the media office said unlike “another past leader, who did not improve himself or Nigeria after leaving office, but sat down nursing grudges and plotting revenge, former President Olusegun Obasanjo improved himself and Nigeria by authoring books, founding international think tanks and engaging in peace and capacity building efforts’’.
“Donations to institutions set up to promote peace in Nigeria and Africa are to be commended, not criminalised. Presidential libraries in America and other parts of the world are similarly funded by donations from civic-minded individuals,’’ it said.
‘’For the avoidance of doubt, Mallam Abdullahi’s donation of fifty million naira was made via a bank transfer, in full compliance with the law. He did not donate or make any payment in cash, as the EFCC is erroneously and salaciously misleading the public. Furthermore, the sources of these funds are completely legitimate and have been conclusively proven to the EFCC. It is instructive to note that even the EFCC has not once claimed these funds to be the proceeds of any illegal activity whatsoever.
“The truth is that there is desperation on the part of the current administration to rope in former President Olusegun Obasanjo into a crime as a way of silencing his voice, which they see as the preeminent critical voice against the misrule that they have foisted on Nigerians.
“This is why they asked the Federal Inland Revenue Service to falsely and libelously include his name in a published list of tax evaders, along with the names of other Peoples Democratic Party sympathisers, such as prominent international singer and pride of Nigeria, Davido, who played a prominent role in PDP’s gubernatorial campaign in Osun state, for which he is being punished.’’
The media office said the EFCC has become a propaganda agency and that the presidency, APC, the EFCC, The FIRS and The Nation ‘’are now working together as five fingers of the same leprous hands’’.