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Corruption: Buhari Under Pressure to Remove Abba Kyari as CoS Ahead of 2019 Election


(AFRICAN EXAMINER) –  Amid local and international concerns about the wobbly and tainted anti-corruption war of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, some leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, have piled pressure on the president to remove his Chief of Staff, CoS, Mr. Abba Kyari, whose alleged involvement in a series of corruption cases has become a major sore point in the administration’s anti-graft war.

Sources said that campaign and election strategists in the party have listed the removal of Kyari as one of the moves that must be made to reposition and rebuild the confidence of Nigerians and members of the international community in the anti-graft battle.

In the build-up to the 2015 presidential election, the fight against corruption was one of the three major planks on which the APC sold the presidential candidature of Buhari to Nigerians and secured the support of critical stakeholders.

The other two planks were the promised to defeat Boko Haram insurgency and the rebuilding of the economy. Unfortunately, the Buhari administration has not been able to completely defeat Boko Haram insurgents though it has largely degraded it while the economy has been dwindling.

Sources close to the APC leadership hinted that those working on the grand strategy for Buhari’s re-election are of the strong view that the fight against corruption offers the best plank to still sell Buhari, who is the presumptive candidate of the governing party in the 2019 presidential election.

The argument, as learnt, was considered valid against the backdrop of the revelations of how the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, had pillaged public treasury to fund the presidential campaign and election of former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

Many of the PDP leaders have been investigated and are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for alleged money laundering and conspiracy to commit fraud.

The opposition PDP had complained about perceived selectiveness by EFCC in its investigation and prosecution of corruption cases under the administration, saying the agency was targeting its leaders.

The EFCC, under the acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, has, indeed, tightened the noose around the neck of some politicians who served in the previous administration, especially those who handled the PDP presidential campaign funds.

While the anti-graft agency intensifies effort to prosecute PDP leaders for their involvement in the alleged use of public funds for the campaign, some federal cabinet members and APC leaders, alleged to have been involved in corrupt acts while holding public offices in the previous administration, have been excluded in corruption investigation and prosecution.

But watchers of the development are, however, not as bothered about the members of the Buhari government who allegedly got involved in corruption acts under the previous administration as they are with fresh corruption cases that are happening right under the nose of the president.

A grapevine said that APC campaign and election strategists see this as counterproductive to their planned effort to sell Buhari’s candidature in his 2019 re-election bid, unless fundamental steps are taken to assure and reassure Nigerians and the international community that the administration is not fighting a selective anti-graft battle.

It was learnt that that the APC strategists resolved that it is time that President Buhari was made to rejig his immediate administrative infrastructure that drives the day-to-day official activities in the presidential villa.

According to multiple sources, the party strategists were said to have agreed that it would be difficult to reinforce the anti-corruption disposition of the administration with Abba Kyari, whose hands have been serially caught in the cookie jar of corruption, in office as CoS.

Besides the concerns by the APC leadership, watchers of the various corruption cases in which Kyari has been fingered, contend that the fact that he is the eyes and the ears of the president raises concerns about the sincerity and commitment of the president to combating corruption.

One of the allegations against Kyari was that he collected N500 million from the South African telecommunications company, MTN, to assist it to effect a reduction in the fine  that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) imposed on it for sharp practices, including failure to disconnect unregistered SIMs within the stipulated deadline.

The report, evidencing Kyari’s involvement, was purportedly presented to President Buhari on September 20, 2016. It would be recalled that the President had, in October 2016, directed the Inspector General of Police to investigate the matter.

Kyari had also been alleged to have, along with Mamman Daura, the powerful godfather in the Villa before he left the place and relocated to Kaduna where he presently operates from, blocked an investigation by the EFCC into Sahara Energy that allegedly received $400 million from former minister of petroleum resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke for the purpose of laundering it to some third parties.

Also, Kyari was alleged to have mounted pressure on Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) to absolve Seawolf Limited, which owes First Bank of Nigeria a princely N160 billion, of the debts, for alleged pecuniary benefits.

The latest allegation of corruption involving Kyari is a Hilux vehicle (15 units) supply contract scam, which he used his nephew, Bako Kyari, to execute. He, however, reportedly denied his nephew of N30 million which he reportedly mobilized, after selling some family property, and invested in supplying the vehicles.

Berekete Radio station in Abuja had on September 2, 2018 aired the contract scam in which Abba Kyari allegedly used one Ado Sani at the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) as an intermediary and through whom he reportedly appropriated the proceeds of the contract.

According to the narrative monitored on the radio programme, Mr. Abba Kyari allegedly used the Department of State Services, then under Lawal Daura, to lock up Bako Kyari and the police officer, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) one Lawal to whom Bako Kyari had complained.

DSP Lawal, who attempted to get to the bottom of the matter but was dealt with by agents of the state on the orders of Abba Kyari had recounted his ordeal at the hands of the DSS to the host of the radio programme.

The APC leadership apparatchiks are said to be worried that Abba Kyari who is not a politician is making the re-election bid of President Buhari somewhat difficult and are therefore piling pressure on the president to ease him out.

They reason that easing Kyari out will give the anti-corruption outlook of the administration a huge boost.

A source close to the development hinted that, “having suffered some credibility deficits, the APC considers that the nation and members of the international community should be assured and reassured that it has not completely lost the anti-corruption war; and one way of doing that is to weed out tainted officials within its fold, especially in the Presidency right under the nose of the president.”

The source added that, “the Party plans to use the opportunity of the remove-Kyari-push to get out at least two or more officials in the presidency who have been subjects of corruption and forgery controversies ahead of the commencement of electioneering for the scheduled February 16, 2019 presidential election.

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