A former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes and member of Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council ( PCC), Hon. Kayode Oladele has added his voice to the calls on the anti-graft agencies to investigate the allegations of criminal breach of trust levelled against the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, while in office as the vice-president of Nigeria by one of his former aides, Michael Achimugu and a further petition submitted to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission by the spokesperson of Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN.
Oladele made the call in Akure, Ondo State, on Thursday, after attending the Southwest leadership meeting of the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council hosted by Ondo State Governor and Southwest Coordinator of the PCC, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN.
According to Oladele, who is also a lawyer, “The allegations against the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar are too weighty to be ignored by the anti-graft agencies and the general public. They border on criminal breach of public trust. Nigerians believe that those who aspire to rule the country will hold the interests of society above their own interests. If therefore, there is a scintilla of evidence to believe that Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, a presidential candidate is not fit to hold such an office on grounds of corruption, abuse of power or criminal breach of public trust, such an allegation should not be swept under the carpet for any reason whatsoever”.
On whether the anti-graft agencies can still investigate the former vice-president who is currently running for President and the fact that Atiku’s camp has disowned the whistle blower whom they accused of being master-minded by his political opponents, Oladele stated, “First, the law is no respecter of anyone, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has no constitutional immunity under section 302 of the Constitution anymore and time does not run against financial crimes. Secondly, the source of information or motive is immaterial in whistle blowing policy.
“The whistle blowing policy of the Federal Government is not interested in the source of the whistle blowing petition. In most cases, whistle blowers’ identities are often protected from the general public for fear of intimidation or threats to their lives or that of their family members. Also, as far as whistle blowing is concerned, motive is irrelevant. What is important is the veracity of the allegation and whether the law has been breached in anyway. Anybody can be a whistle blower even your houseboy. Whether or not such a person has been influenced by a third party is immaterial. The only solution is to come out clean but definitely not by blaming the whistle blower for being a betrayer or a disgruntled former aide.
“Whistle-blowing policy in Nigeria is an anti-corruption programme that encourages people to voluntarily disclose information about fraud, looted government funds, financial misconducts or criminal breach of trust and any other form of corruption. The anti-grafts agencies have the statutory power under the law to investigate and prosecute such offenses as we have it in the petition against Alhaji Atiku. If the E.F.C.C or ICPC finds the allegations to be true, then charges may be preferred against him and he may be prosecuted accordingly before a Court of competent jurisdiction”.
“I read from some quarters, particularly the PDP that people are trying to tie the issue to politics. That is mischaracterization. In my opinion, the proper thing is for Mr. Abubakar to clear himself by personally coming out to present his case to Nigerians instead of using his paid publicists. After all, he is the only one that can honestly purge himself of these allegations”, Oladele concluded.