President Muhammadu Buhari is currently under pressure to probe one of his key allies, Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu; a PDP Chieftain and former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi and all Nigerians fingered in the Pandora Papers, the latest leaks of financial documents in the world.
Pandora Papers released this week have exposed the secret wealth and dealings of world leaders, politicians and billionaires including influential Nigerians.
Aside from Bagudu and Obi, a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, serving and former Lawmakers, a Pastor and many other high-profile citizens have been mentioned in money laundering cases, flouting “extant laws and legislations” as they hide their assets in the notorious secrecy jurisdictions.
With the latest leaks, Civil Society Groups and other critical stakeholders in the country are calling on President Buhari to direct relevant agencies to probe all those mentioned in line with his administration’s stance on corruption.
The investigation is part of the global International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, ICIJ,-led Pandora Papers project.
The project saw 600 Journalists from 150 news organisations around the world including from Nigeria’s Premium Times sieving a trove of 11.9 million confidential files, contextualising information, tracking down sources and analysing public records and other documents.
Governor Bagudu, who chairs the Progressive Governors’ Forum, PGF, is currently in the eye of the storm over the controversial wealth he allegedly got through late General Sani Abacha, a former Head of State.
There have been reports on how Bagudu used phoney companies to siphon and move funds allegedly stolen by Abacha but the governor has denied the stories.
In the latest leaks, Bagudu was said to have dispatched a delegation to Singapore in search of a new haven to shelter funds, which is a target of ongoing forfeiture proceedings by the United States Department of Justice.
It was reported that huge funds, warehoused offshore, are part of billions of dollars Bagudu helped the Sani Abacha family to steal from Nigeria in the 1990s. His brother, Ibrahim was also fingered in scandal. At the moment, Bagudu is one of the three governors close to the Presidency.
Because of his closeness to the presidency and the Chairman of the APC National Caretaker Committee, Mai Mala Buni, Bagudu is playing a key role in the politicking for the emergence of the next national chairman of the ruling party and who picks the presidential ticket of the party.
The Kebbi State Governor has not responded to calls and a text message by one of our reporters.
However, in a written response to Premium Times, Bagudu’s lawyers said the governor used legal processes in all his dealings.
According to the leaks, former Governor Obi allegedly contracted Access International, a secrecy enabler in Monaco, France, to help him incorporate an offshore entity in one of the world’s most notorious tax havens noted for providing conduits for the wealthy and privileged corrupt political elites to hide stolen cash.
The former Governor, who served as running mate to PDP Presidential candidate in the 2015 general elections, Atiku Abubakar, also allegedly paid Acces International to provide nominee directors for the company.
These Directors are residents of tax havens paid to sit on boards of companies to hide the identities of real owners of offshore firms, the report perused by the Premium Times, showed.