Contrary to widespread speculations that the noose may have tightened around former President Jonathan’s camp, and that his arrest may be in the offing, Ripples Nigeria investigations show that he may not be on the priority list of security agencies for now.
On Wednesday, the former president arrived Port-Harcourt International Airport enroute his country home, Otuoke. He is reported to have spent about a month away from Nigeria, raising speculations that he might have sought refuge in the French-speaking West African country of Côte d’ Ivoire. This has since been denied by the former president.
The exile rumour gained grounds soon after Jonathan’s Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs, Warimopei Dudafa and his cousin, Robert Azibaola, were arrested and detained by the EFCC over allegations of embezzlement of public funds.
While Azibaola was accused of being involved in a $40m oil pipeline scandal, Dudafa allegedly got into trouble for sharing N10bn to PDP delegates during the presidential primaries in December 2014.
Soon after that, the EFCC also arrested and grilled his former Principal Private Secretary, Mr. Hassan Tukur in connection with the release of some funds by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
Though the rumoured plan to also quarantine Jonathan for possible prosecution is yet to fully abate, Ripples Nigeria findings do not suggest that he may be picked up soon for interrogation. An immediate pointer to this was a declaration by President Buhari that the former president had done so much to earn his praise and those of other compatriots.
Read also: How Obj, others stopped Buhari from naming looters
In an emotion-laden statement made while addressing the Villa press corps on Monday, Buhari hailed Jonathan, “For him to have conceded defeat even before the result was announced by INEC, I think it was a great generosity, a great patriotism.”
A presidency source who spoke on the matter of Jonathan’s speculated prosecution cast further doubts on plans to quiz him. He said, “I doubt if there are any such plans in the immediate. There is no reason to. Don’t forget there are legal sides to the issue of prosecution.
“The only petition to have Jonathan arrested that I know of is the one by a so called Mr Ikenna Ejezie which is already stewed in controversy. The integrity of the petition and the petitioner has been queried.”
He added, “There is nothing concrete for the security agencies to work with yet.”
Members of the civil society have, however, expressed serious concerns over alleged moves to bury the anti- corruption war under the cloak of friendship. A convener of one of such groups queried Buhari’s show of sentiment.
“This debt of gratitude being sold by Buhari towards a man who presided over the greatest rot in Nigeria’s history is unnecessary and uncalled for.”
Alluding to the various reports which allegedly have shown manifest pilfering of public funds by senior officials of the Jonathan administration, he said, “GEJ cannot claim ignorance of all that happened under his nose. Remember, the buck stops on the president’s table.”
Ripples Nigeria had on Wednesday reported that the presidency may be adopting a somewhat reconciliatory approach in the anti-corruption war. Titled, ‘How ObJ, others stopped Buhari from naming looters,” the report adduced need for strong caution as reason why presidency sources wanted the issue of alleged looters treated with utmost care.
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