President Muhammadu Buhari has presented to his predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, evidence of infractions committed under his watch in defense of the determination of his administration to probe the previous government.
New Telegraph learnt that the president, during a late night meeting with Jonathan at the State House on August 6, showed reports of discreet probes conducted by the new government on the immediate past administration to the former president.
It was learnt that the secret meeting between the two major contenders in the last presidential election was at the instance of the diplomatic community to douse rising tension in the country. Multiple sources said Buhari showed Jonathan evidence of infractions committed under him as a president, especially diversion of funds, unwholesome oil deals, arms purchase and several others.
It was gathered that the president told his predecessor that he was not playing to the gallery in the fight against corruption as the public was made to believe. He said there were proofs of high-level corruption against some officials who served under Jonathan. Besides, one of the sources said Buhari showed Jonathan evidence of recoveries made so far in terms of assets and funds from some officials of the immediate past government.
Of interest was the report of an investigation carried out by a security agency on an aide of the former president from who about N1.5 billion had been recovered from.
“The president showed Dr. Jonathan some discoveries made on several infractions by officials of his (Jonathan) administration. He justified why his administration must recover looted funds and prosecute the offenders. It was a frank talk between the two leaders.
“President Buhari availed Dr. Jonathan of reports of various discreet probes on oil deals, diversion of funds and unwholesome arms deals. From the reports, there is overwhelming evidence of infractions which the former president could not dispute,” the source said. Buhari stated that he was not out to humiliate Jonathan in his fight against graft and assured him of his highest regards for the former president.
He, however, stated that no sensible person would ignore the spate of impunity that was prevalent in the last administration. The source said Jonathan, in his response, feigned ignorance of many of the infractions. He was said to have mentioned some of his aides, including one of his former chiefs of staff, as one of those who could assist the president to unravel the alleged shady deals committed by some top officials of the previous administration.
The source said Jonathan gave assurances of his willingness to cooperate with the government if the need arises. “From the evidence so far, it is either the former president lacks the capacity to govern or abdicated his responsibilities.
Otherwise, he must have been part of the infractions,” the source said. Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, confirmed this much when he said that Jonathan surrounded himself with questionable characters.
“When it comes to the issue of corruption, Jonathan surrounds himself with certain unsavory characters and that is something you don’t have to do if you are in charge. “There were forces around Jonathan, which he himself did not understand and that is why I stressed that, you’ve got to choose your circle of advisers very carefully, when you are in charge.
He was caged; things were going on that he did not know about,” Soyinka said. A source said that while the former president might be spared of ‘direct’ probe, his aides, officials and associates who have questions to answer would be prosecuted.
Also, New Telegraph has learnt that the essence of the August 11 meeting between Buhari and members of the General Abdusalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee was on how to ensure the continued existence of the peace committee and to gain more insight into Buhari’s approach to governance, particularly his anti-corruption drive. The peace committee, set up by the Federal Government, played crucial roles in ensuring violencefree 2015 general elections and peaceful handover of power from Jonathan to Buhari.
At the meeting between the president and members of the committee, which came a few days after Buhari and Jonathan had met, the delegation asked Buhari if the peace panel should be discontinued, given the fact that it had completed its assignment.
Buhari, according to a source, told the peace committee that he was not averse to the activities of the panel and its continued existence. “The president told the committee that as a man of peace, he will still need their services,” the source said.
However, it was gathered that at the session, an influential member of the committee complained about Buhari’s strategy to governance, particularly his handling of the anticorruption war.
The member said the ongoing probe was heating up the polity and perceived as being selective, especially limiting the inquiry to the Jonathan administration. While the committee members told the president to follow due process in the fight against graft, some others described the anti-graft war as a distraction to good governance.
According to a source privy to the meeting, the president pointedly told his guests that he has no apology about his commitment to fight corruption. He told the committee members that what he expected from them is to talk to those who have plundered the nation’s treasury to return their loots, saying this is the only way there can be peace.
“The president was emphatic in his response. He told us that while he appreciates our concerns on his approach to anti-graft fight, he would diligently pursue the policy. He gave assurances that due process and rule of law will be observed in the anti-corruption war.
“The president gave us instances of infractions by officials of the Jonathan administration. He was specific on some cases and even mentioned names of people involved in highlevel infractions.
He asked us what we would do if we were in his shoes. “In the end, he told us that the peace panel would do the nation good if they can appeal and persuade some officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration to return looted funds.
The president said the recovery of the looted funds should be the concern of the committee and not ignoring the infractions by those entrusted with the nation’s commonwealth. The president said nothing would stop him from the recovery of looted funds and prosecuting offenders,” the source confided in New Telegraph.