Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
The Presidency on Saturday challenged a multinational banking and financial services company, HSBC, to return the stolen funds it allegedly helped the late Head of State, Sani Abacha; a serving senator and other Nigerians to launder.
It said instead of engaging in doomsday prophecy, the financial institution should return Nigeria’s stolen assets.
It said in a statement by the Special Senior Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, that HSBC allegedly laundered over $100m for the late Abacha in Jersey, Paris, London and Geneva.
Shehu’s statement was in response to reports by The Economist Intelligence Unit, the research unit of The Economist and HSBC.
The Economist had in the report by the EIU predicted that the Peoples Democratic Party would win the 2019 presidential election.
The prediction also stated that if Buhari wins second term, the development would stunt the economy of the country.
But Shehu, said on Saturday that of “the unbridled looting of state resources by leaders” that “killed Nigeria’s economy in the past”.
The presidency said a bank that allegedly soiled its hand with huge amount of funds stolen from Nigeria by Abacha and others and yet to be recovered lacked the moral right to predict an economic doom under Buhari’s second term.
The statement read in part, “The Presidency wishes to make clear to all Nigerians, and particularly the global banking giant HSBC which said the second term of President Muhammadu Buhari would stunt the economy, that what killed Nigeria’s economy in the past was the unbridled looting of state resources by leaders, the type which was actively supported by HSBC.
“A bank that soiled its hand with ‘millions of US dollars yet-to-be-recovered Abacha loot’’ and continued until a few months ago to shield the stolen funds of one of the leaders of the Nigerian Senate has no moral right whatsoever to project that a ‘second term for Mr. Buhari raises the risk of limited economic progress and further fiscal deterioration’.
“Rather, we ask them to heed President Buhari’s constant refrain: return our stolen assets, then see how well we will do.
“From the facts available to our investigation agencies, HSBC’s put down on President Buhari is no more than an expression of frustration over the administration’s measures put in place which has abolished grand corruption, the type which this bank thrives on in many countries.
“They may also just be out to discredit the President out of the fear of sanctions and fines following the national assets that are stolen.”