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Jonathan's cousin charged with graft at EFCC

08 June 2016, 06:41

Abuja - The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday said a cousin of former president Goodluck Jonathan had been charged and detained over allegations that he and his wife siphoned $40 million from public funds.

The anti-graft agency said a federal high court judge in Abuja "ordered the remand of (Robert Azibaola), a cousin of ex-president Goodluck Jonathan... pending the determination of his bail application".

Azibaola and his wife Stella are facing seven charges of money laundering, criminal breach of trust and corruption, the EFCC added in an emailed statement.

The couple is alleged to have diverted $40 million in cash meant to supply "tactical communications kit" to Nigerian special forces.

The money was said to have been transferred from the account of the office of the national security advisor with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to One Plus Holdings' company account.

The alleged offences are said to have taken place in September 2014. The two defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges. Robert Azibaola has been in custody for more than two months, the court heard.

A hearing to determine bail has been set for Wednesday.

Also read: Buhari begs Jonathan to mediate in FG, militants talks

Former National Security Advisor Sambo Dasuki is currently facing a slew of charges over allegedly bogus arms deals in which money meant for military procurement was diverted for political purposes.

The money was allegedly paid into accounts of senior figures in Goodluck Jonathan's then-ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to fund his re-election campaign in 2015.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo in May accused Jonathan's administration of stealing some $15 billion of public money through fraudulent arms deals.

Dasuki has said Jonathan as commander-in-chief signed off on the procurement deals, effectively making the former president an alibi. But so far he has not apparently been questioned or interviewed.

Former PDP spokesman Olisah Metuh, who allegedly received a share of the cash, has also said he was only acting on Jonathan's orders.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who beat Jonathan in the 2015 polls, has launched a wide-ranging campaign against corruption.

But Jonathan has kept quiet on the issue, telling France 24 television in January he did not want to compromise any trial.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television broadcast on Monday, he said: "Of course, obviously, I would be investigated. In fact, I am being investigated."

But he refused to elaborate on what he meant, saying "it would not be proper" for him to comment.



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