Abuja, Jide Orintunsin
The All Progressives Congress (APC) on Saturday asked Nigeria's anti-graft agencies to investigate the link between some leaders of the Democratic Peoples Party (PDP) and the alleged fraudster Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, popularly known as Ray Hushpuppi.
The party's deputy national advertising secretary, Yekini Nabena, said in Abuja that the arrested suspect should be a matter of great interest to the relevant authorities in Nigeria.
But PDP chief Dr. Bukola Saraki said the APC statement was irresponsible, while former vice president Atiku Abubakar called it a mischief.
Hushpuppi was arrested in Dubai on June 10 by security agencies in the United Arab Emirates and deported to the United States, where he appeared in court on Friday.
He is facing charges of conspiracy to launder millions of dollars of commercial email compromise (BEC) fraud and other scams.
APC, commenting on yesterday's development, said that while the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) previously stated that the suspect was wanted for fraud, the anti-corruption agency, the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and similar organizations "must investigate money laundering reports linking some PDP leaders and funders to Dubai's international criminal circle."
Nabena said that security agencies should unveil the choice of Dubai for the & # 39; strategic meetings & # 39; the PDP's pre-2019 general elections and the reported relationship between Hushpuppi and some opposition party leaders.
"At different times," Hushpuppi "was seen photographed at the Dubai meeting with the PDP presidential candidate in 2019, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; former Senate President Bukola Saraki; former Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Yakubu Dogara; Senator Dino Melaye, among other defenders of the PDP.
"While the relevant authorities investigate the nature of their relationship and business partnership, we also challenge the PDP leadership to do the same, opening up the nature of the relationship, particularly the type of services provided by the arrested" Hushpuppi ".
In the forthcoming elections for the Edo and Ondo government, APC warned against the monetized elections and the vote-buying schemes that he said the PDP implemented in previous elections.
APC statement irresponsible and cheap policy, says Saraki
Former Senate President Bukola Saraki described the APC's statement as irresponsible and cheap policy, especially for trying to link it to Hushpuppi.
Saraki stated that "he has no form of association with the suspect … and does not know him at all".
"The statement credited to APC, the ruling party in our country, is one of the ways in which our anti-graft agencies are weakened and why the fight against corruption in the country is often viewed with suspicion by the international community," Saraki said. in a statement through his media adviser, Yusuph Olaniyonu.
Continuing, he said: “This is because when these cybercriminal suspects were operating freely and openly exhibiting wealth, APC saw nothing wrong with their activities.
“In addition, the party at the time did not consider it necessary to call anti-graft agencies to investigate its activities.
“Furthermore, since the arrest of these cybercriminal suspects and the ensuing damage to Nigeria's image and economy, as well as the crisis it has created for Nigerians involved in legal business around the world, the ruling party has been silenced.
"The only time that APC considered it necessary to make a statement was when it thought it should adopt dirty, cheap and irresponsible policies."
He asked the APC leadership to control Nabena and "compel him to give up making and circulating such malicious, hateful and offensive allegations".
It's mischievous to call Hushpuppi – Atiku
In his own response, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said he was "curious that the All Progressives Congress is" maliciously trying to link "him to Hushpuppi, simply because they took a photo together.
Atiku's press officer, Paul Ibe, said the photograph was taken at "an event in which many Nigerians met".
He added: “For the avoidance of doubt, it was a mere photo operation and not at any meeting as being ingloriously speculated.
“We advise APC and Mr. Nabena to be very attentive to these meaningless statements in the future, especially since the case in question is the subject of litigation in another country.
"If they had been more sensitive, they would have come to terms with the reality that the case is a national shame – and not something to be happy about any political blackmail."