Nigeria opposition spokesman charged with money laundering

Nigeria opposition spokesman charged with money laundering
Naira Notes

A spokesman for Nigeria’s main opposition party has been charged with money laundering involving 400 million naira ($2 million) intended for defence spending that the financial crimes agency said on Friday was used to fund an election campaign.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s election victory in March ended the rule of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which had been in power since Nigeria returned to civilian government in 1999.

Buhari says he wants to root out widespread corruption but the PDP has accused the president of mounting a witch-hunt against its members.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said PDP spokesman Olisa Metuh diverted funds through the office of the National Security Adviser between November 2014 and March 2015 and used the money for PDP “campaign activities … and other personal purposes”.

Metuh pleaded not guilty to seven counts of money laundering at the capital Abuja’s high court and was remanded in custody until a bail hearing on Tuesday.

He is accused of colluding with former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki, who also served under former President Goodluck Jonathan and was charged with money laundering and criminal breach of trust last month, to divert the funds.

Dasuki has also pleaded not guilty. He was arrested on Dec. 1 in relation to an investigation into a $2 billion arms deal.

Buhari called for Dasuki’s arrest in November, accusing him of stealing funds through phantom arms contracts and hampering the fight against the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

Separately, Buhari ordered the EFCC to investigate 38 former military chiefs, officers and companies for alleged arms procurement fraud, a presidency statement said on Friday.

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