Ex-official under Nigerian president is held in corruption probe

2018-01-25 21:42
Muhammadu Buhari (File: AFP)

Muhammadu Buhari (File: AFP)

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Abuja - Nigeria's anti-graft squad said on Thursday it had placed David Babachir Lawal, once a senior official under President Muhammadu Buhari, in custody for alleged corruption.

"He was invited to our office yesterday (Wednesday) and since then he has been in our custody," the acting spokesperson of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Samin Amaddin, told AFP on Thursday.

Amaddin could not say how long Lawal would remain in EFCC custody.

Lawal, an engineer with experience in telecoms, was appointed to the job of government secretary in August 2015.

But last October he was stripped of office, under suspicion of having awarded contracts running into millions of dollars to companies in which he had interests.

Buhari, a former army general who first led a military regime in the 1980s, has made combating Nigeria's rampant corruption a hallmark of his tenure.

Lawal's arrest came after one of Buhari's predecessors, Olusegun Obasanjo, attacked Buhari's record, accused him of "nepotist interests" and urged him not to stand again in elections due next year.

Buhari is frequently accused by critics of soft-pedalling on corruption in order to protect his own entourage.

The EFCC has announced a string of inquiries and new trials for corruption since Buhari took office, but Nigeria's lengthy legal process means that no high flyer has yet been prosecuted.

"How many more cases are buried, ignored or covered up and not yet in the glare of the media and of the public?" Obasanjo asked.

Meanwhile, Buhari's office on Thursday announced he would leave for the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on Friday to take part in an African Union summit, which this year is being held under the theme "Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa's Transformation."

Read more on:    muhammadu buhari  |  nigeria  |  west africa

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