Atiku Abubakar, the former Vice President, has given himself a clean slate from corruption tag, saying that court has cleared him of the corruption allegations “cooked up” by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and gazetted by a government white paper during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
Atiku stated this in the interview granted to the editorial team of the EFCC, which was published in the latest edition of their in-house Magazine, “Zero Tolerance”.
He noted that he is one of the strongest advocate of the anti-corruption war, having pioneered the establishment of the major anti-graft agencies including the EFCC and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
He said: “Well, if Atiku Abubakar was corrupt, he would have been found guilty of corruption by all the panels and probes and cases that were brought before the courts.
“I remember the only corruption indictment against me was a white paper which was cooked up by our own administration overnight including the very EFCC that I helped found, and other cabinet ministers, which I challenged in court. The court rightly dismissed all those indictment as being mere political; and till today nobody has ever indicted me of corruption.”
The Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), also spoke on his relationship with the then Chairman of EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu, saying he has rested their differences.
He said that Ribadu apologised to him on several occasions and that he has forgiven him despite the fact that he refused to do so publicly as he demanded.
“I can recall when he (Ribadu) came to ask for my forgiveness, I said if you want me to forgive you Nuhu, go to the same television stations where you said I was corrupt and say you now realised that I am not corrupt. Then he said sir, ‘you have forgiven so many people who have offended you publicly, without them going to TV stations to apoligise to you. Why is my own case different?’ I said, ‘your case is different because first of all I helped to found the EFCC; I made sure that even when you had no budget, I took money from the privatisation council and gave you as a loan so that you can function before the National Assembly approved your budget. I was instrumental to your appointment, so I believe I had contributed to your development and that is what you are paying me back with’.
“In any case, he kept apologising and I said ‘okay’, no problem’. That closed the chapter”.
Atiku however, insisted that it was Ribadu and the then Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and current Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai, that Obasanjo “used in cooking up the indictment that was eventually thrown out.”
“So where is the evidence of corruption? Its not just fair for you to say somebody is corrupt without substation. This is the same el-Rufai who testified on TV that he worked with me as Director-General of Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) for four years and there was never a time I asked him or instructed him to do anything unethical in those years. So, how am I a corrupt person? This is the same el-Rufai and others who incorporated Transcorp during my time as Vice President and offered me shares and I declined. I wrote them officially to it was unethical of me to have accepted those offers. So, where is the corruption toga coming from?,” he queried.
Atiku debunked the allegations made by El-Rufai in his book: “Accidental Public Servant”, that he spearheaded the N50 million bribe scandal involving Senators Ibrahim Mantu, Jonathan Zwingina and others during his ministerial confirmation screening.
He said that the former DG of BPE might have “misconstrued what happened”, saying “He actually ran to me to say that he was denied confirmation by the Senate”.
“Of course, I called Mantu and others and confronted them, and they admitted that yes they denied him because they do not see him as a Minister. It is also on record, because I controlled the campaign funds; and el-Rufai now went and said those campaign funds were meant to be a bribe. This is how he came about concocting that story. Of course, my boss, the President (Obasanjo), investigated the story and found out that indeed every Senator got contributions from the campaign fund which I was managing.
“So where is the corruption in that? Had he discovered that there was corruption, he would have used it against me because he was looking for anything to nail me. But he couldn’t get it because I brought him evidence of all those that benefited from the fund”, he explained.