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A new chapter was recently added to the agelong campaign against former military Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, with the report that his “adopted son” was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an alleged N20 million fraud.
Quoting an unnamed source in the anti-corruption agency, many news organisations and bloggers reported that a certain Muhammed Buhari allegedly conned a woman named Nwokocha Florence under the pretence of investing in an oil and gas business.
Media reports, most of which read as if they were written by the same person, said the suspect promised to make “mouth-watering” returns to the woman who was said to have been introduced to him by his account officer at Ecobank. The bubble reportedly burst when the accused reneged on an agreement to pay 30 per cent annual interest on the N20 million.
An unidentified EFCC source said “Buhari” claimed he had some problems because of his loss of a bank guarantee which was cancelled because the branch from which he secured it lacked the competence to do so.
No sooner had the story become public than the retired military ruler and serial presidential candidate denied any relationship with the accused. A statement released by the Buhari Vanguard on behalf of the All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain said he does not have any adopted son and “had no need to adopt a son at any time having been blessed with choice children, both male and female.
“It is regrettable to note that after several unsuccessful attempts to smear the hard earned respect, popularity, dignity, and enviable image of Muhammadu Buhari, mischief makers have resorted to a laughable tactic of linking Muhammadu Buhari to a crime just because someone who has been alleged to have committed a crime somewhere bears the name ‘Buhari,’” the group complained.
Buhari, it pointed out, “is blessed with very decent and disciplined children who obviously took after their father. His children have no single record of stealing and inordinate behaviour anywhere in the world. They do not seek attention, but have proven the stuff their father is made of any time their character is put to the test.”
It frowned at the “poorly articulated gimmick to indirectly link Muhammadu Buhari and his family to a crime allegedly committed by someone unknown to him and his family just for the fact that the said suspect bears the name ‘Muhammed Buhari.’”
EFCC Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed the arrest of the suspect but said, “I don’t have the details.”
Supporters of the man – who held an icy vicelike grip on Nigeria from December 31, 1983 until his overthrow by members of his ruling Supreme Military Council (SMC) led by the smiling General Ibrahim Babangida on August 27, 1985 – are unanimous that the “adopted son” theory must have come from somewhere close to the seat in Aso Rock which Buhari has failed to reclaim as a civilian in three attempts (2003, 2007 and 2011).
Having not publicly ruled himself out of taking a fourth shot at the ballot box in 2015, the born again democrat remains the target of darts from people with different intentions.
On the charge sheet prepared over the years by his opponents are allegations of truncating democracy via a military takeover; gross abuse of human rights – the height of which was the execution of Lawal Ojuolape (30), Bernard Ogedengbe (29) and Bartholomew Owoh (26) for drug trafficking, a crime that did not carry a capital punishment at the time Ogedengbe committed it – promulgation of the dreaded Decree 4 under which two journalists, Nduka Irabor and Tunde Thompson, were jailed; smuggling of 53 suitcases filled with cash through the Lagos Airport; working with the late General Sani Abacha; failure to appear before the Oputa Panel; ethnicity and religious bigotry.
Some also argue that his fraternity with certain “jaga jaga” elements in the APC gives a lie to his professed strict and incorruptible stance.
Blamed by political opponents and critics for the violence that erupted in parts of the North after he lost the 2011 presidential election on the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), and fanning the embers of Islamic fundamentalism, Buhari has had to condemn on several occasions the atrocities committed by Boko Haram.
He has called them everything from “mindless bigots” to “misguided persons masquerading as adherents of Islam.” But many are still not convinced about Buhari’s conversion to a democrat.
Many things have been (and will be) thrown at him. Allegations of an “adopted son” arrested for fraud is the kitchen sink. A lot more will come in the days leading to 2015 and beyond.