from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – THE timing of allegations against leading presidential candidates in Nigeria, and the subsequent calls on them to step aside from the race, is suspicious.
However, the serious allegations call into question the moral worth of the front-runners to lead the largest Black Nation in the world.
The mercury that has been rising for weeks now has ascended to a new level amid a flurry of allegations against the flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, and his main rival, Atiku Abubakar of the biggest-albeit-divided opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
A dark horse in the February 25 poll, Peter Obi, of the Labour Party (PDP), has not been spared the allegations either.
These allegations are mostly around corruption but range from the comical to the tragic.
The main parties have slapped the allegations against each other. The legal fraternity and civil society have joined the fray.
The APC Presidential Campaign Council has called for the arrest of Tinubu over alleged corruption, money laundering and theft.
PDP has called for the arrest of Tinubu for alleged treason over the reported formation of a uniformed squad, the so-called Jabagan Army, by the ruling party. PDP alleges the military-style outfit is to disrupt the elections and make the country ungovernable.
PDP is also making the most of the fact that Tinubu has also been figured in a Chicago State narcotics syndicate saga in the United States.
Michael Achimugu, who has claimed to the former aide of Abubakar, recently alleged that the latter used Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) to siphon public funds when he served as vice president between 1999 and 2007.
Dino Melaye, spokesperson of Abubakar’s PDP campaign team, has denied the allegations as the handiwork of the APC.
Festus Keyamo, spokesperson of the APC presidential campaign council, claimed the party has solid evidence.
Amid the counter accusations, prominent lawyer, Obunike Ohaegbu, has approached the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offices Commission (ICPC) and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to investigate the allegations against all accused.
He raised alarm over the allegation of drug-related crimes in the United States against Tinubu, a governor of the Lagos state from 1999 to 2007.
Accusations of involvement in narcotics dealing during his work stint in the US until the 1980s have always returned to haunt him.
He has been portrayed as mythical character, particularly his age.
He is officially 70 but there are claims he is 85 and actually also goes by the name, Lamidi Amoda Sangodele.
“Nigerians deserve to know if both are one and the same person,” Ohaegbu said.
He is also accused of falsifying his academic qualifications. Current president, Muhammadu Buhari, faced similar accusations but eventually won polls in 2015 and 2019. Buhari is not eligible for this election after serving two terms.
The Conference Of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has demanded that Abubakar (76) and Tinubu withdraw from the presidential election following the recurring allegations.
“For the CNPP, both the APC and the PDP are right in their calls and counter calls for their respective presidential candidates to step aside for thorough investigation,” said CNPP Secretary General, Willy Ezugwu.
CNPP is the umbrella body of all political parties in Nigeria.
It believes the above allegations impact negatively on national security, corruption and transborder criminal activities.
“Crime prevention is part of the fundamental duties of security agencies anywhere in the world and Nigeria is not an exception,” Ezugwu said.
Allegations against Obi have added to the muddle.
A former PDP governor for the southeastern Anambra state, the 61-year-old faces accusations of abuse of office, money laundering and presiding over human rights and the murder of citizens while he was premier of the state.
Obi has defected from the factionalised PDP, as is the other presidential candidate, Rabiu Kwankwaso.
Kwankwaso (61) has quit both the APC and PDP. The former governor of the northern Kano state is the rank outsider in the upcoming presidential election, where he will lead the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
He has been exempt from the ongoing series of allegations against the presidential frontrunners but in 2021, he was the subject of a probe on accusations of abuse of office, diversion of public funds and fraudulent allocation of government properties.
The state of affairs have reignited calls for authorities to ensure the amending of electoral laws to make it mandatory for political parties to have the laws amended to ensure presidential candidates are cleared by anti-drugs and anti-corruption agencies before polls.
“This has become imperative as men and women who constitute threats to national security must not be allowed to be nominated as candidates by political parties at any election,” Ezugwu stated.
More than 93 million citizens are set to cast their votes in the West African nation.
– CAJ News