Saturday, September 25, 2021

EXCLUSIVE: Bank documents expose how Amosun wired millions to President Buhari from Ogun State treasury

Ibikunle Amosun was long a top benefactor of Muhammadu Buhari, but why did the financial support continue well into his presidency?

• December 2, 2020
Muhammadu Buhari and Ibikunle Amosun

Prior to his return to power in 2015, Muhammadu Buhari was hardly viewed as a wealthy former military ruler — and even his critics occasionally acknowledged his so-called austere personality.

In the years leading to his 2015 election, there were reports that Mr. Buhari was being sustained by his friends and political associates, including Ibikunle Amosun who supported his fated presidential run in 2015.

But Mr. Buhari’s rise to Nigerian presidency in May 2015 introduced instant fortunes into his immediate family: a fleet of luxury aircraft, a row of fortified palatial mansions, luxury cars, helicopters, presidential dining, evolving wardrobe, a monthly income that runs into millions. The benefits are almost endless — all on the Nigerian taxpayers.

Yet, Mr. Amosun, a serving senator who was Ogun State governor between 2011 and 2019, transferred N12.5 million of Ogun taxpayers’ funds to Mr. Buhari’s personal bank account, according to bank records obtained by Peoples Gazette.

The September 8, 2016, transaction was authorised from Ogun State Government Expenditure Account, which the Gazette’s findings revealed was directly under Mr. Amosun’s control.

It was also unclear whether or not a voucher was raised for the transaction. At least two officials in Ogun State accountant-general’s office said they could not trace any payment advice before the transaction went to the president.

“There is no voucher relating to any direct or indirect payment to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016 in our filing system,” a senior civil servant at the accountant-general’s office said. “It was possible that a voucher was not raised by the governor before the transaction was processed.”

The officials said it was quite common under Mr. Amosun for transfers to be done directly from the state treasury without requisite documentation, especially if the governor had a direct interest in such payments.

Waheed Odusile, Ogun State information commissioner, did not immediately return calls seeking comments from the Gazette. Neither Mr. Amosun nor his spokesman returned a request seeking comments.

Presidential spokesmen Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu did not return multiple requests for comments seeking clarification for the transaction.

‘Raided treasury’

Ogun State under Mr. Amosun has long concealed the state’s finances from the public, but a trove of financial records recently obtained by the Gazette has exposed his questionable handling of public funds.

Mr. Amosun has been amongst the closest allies of President Buhari since 2015, enjoying some of the rarest federal benefits in the last four years of his governorship tenure.

In 2019, Mr. Amosun was protected when he was exposed as a dangerous gunrunner in a series of investigation by Premium Times.

Despite illegally importing at least 1000 AK-47 rifles and over two million bullets, the Buhari administration has continued to shield Mr. Amosun from facing the law. Security analysts said Mr. Amosun’s action, no doubt, would have contributed to Nigeria’s endemic insecurity.

Arisekola Bakare, a Sagamu-based lawyer and public affairs analysts, said Mr. Amosun’s ties to Mr. Buhari had long emboldened his recklessness as a politician.

“He seemed to have raided Ogun State treasury for his allies, who now appear to include the president himself based on your findings,” Mr. Bakare told the Gazette. “I think everyone can now see why Amosun has been very sad and reckless in Ogun State and beyond.”

Mr. Bakare said he might approach the court to compel anti-graft officials to investigate the fund because of its inexplicable context.

“We have long known that Amosun was funding Buhari before Buhari became president,” Mr. Bakare said. “But we may need to go to court to understand why Amosun was still using Ogun State money to support a whole president while abandoning millions of residents in poverty and deprivation.”

“By the time we get to court, more of such alarming and unjustifiable transfers might come to public light for our people to know how they were robbed by a man who claimed to be their governor for eight years,” the legal practitioner added.

Download Ogun State Expenditure Account 2016 statement here

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