Arrest Akpabia now – Buhari orders EFCC

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Buhari speaks on Akpabio, others who allegedly join APC to escape prosecution

President Muhammadu Buhari [Photo: The News (Nigeria)]

President Muhammadu Buhari has reacted to allegations that his ruling All Progressives Congress protects corrupt politicians once they join the party.

The president said he would not spare anyone if there were evidence proving wrongdoing.

Allegations of lopsided corruption war have dogged the administration, with critics saying the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has focused on opposition politicians and lets them off the hook once they become APC members.

The party denies the claim, pointing to the conviction of two former governors — Joshua Dariye or Plateau and Jolly Nyame of Taraba — who joined the APC while facing corruption trial.

Still, the defection on Tuesday of the deputy national chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party for north, Babayo Gamawa, was greeted with similar concerns after it emerged Mr Gamawa was standing trial for alleged N500 million fraud.

In an interview with ThisDay newspaper and Arise Television, President Buhari said he had not directed anti-graft agencies not to go after corrupt politicians who joined the ruling party.

Pressed on the example of former Akwa Ibom governor, Godswill Akpabio, whom some accuse of quitting his former party, PDP, to escape prosecution, the president said such claims were unfair to him.

The EFCC alleged a N108.1 billion fraud case against Mr Akpabio, a former Senate minority leader. The former influential member of the PDP was arrested at least twice by the EFCC.

However, in August 2018, he resigned his position as the senate minority leader and formally defected to the APC.

Although there was no mention of the EFCC when he gave his reasons for joining the APC, there were speculations as to why he left the PDP – prominent among which is the fact that he is avoiding prosecution by the anti-graft agencies.

Nothing has been heard of any case against him since.
When asked about Mr Akpabio, the president said he does not spare anyone found guilty of corruption.

“It is very unfair allegation against my integrity… I do not spare anybody unless I don’t have the facts. I don’t think Akpabio — whatever he did when he moved to the APC — I said he should be left alone,” he said.

“I can’t remember asking the EFCC, ICPC, the police or anybody to spare any corrupt person or incompetent person. I haven’t done it and I challenge you to expose any,” he said.

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