The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) says criminal conspiracy linking “Hushpuppi” to the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) should be investigated.
The APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena in a statement issued on Saturday claimed that the PDP leadership turned Dubai into their “strategic” meeting place ahead of the 2019 general elections in Nigeria and “Hushpuppi’s” affinity with the party leadership was not mere coincidence.
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Nabena said at different times, “Hushpuppi” was being photographed in Dubai meeting with the PDP’s 2019 presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar; former Senate President, Bukola Saraki; former Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; Senator Dino Melaye among other PDP stalwarts.
He said: “Reports of the criminal conspiracy linking the top echelon of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) with Ramon Olorunwa Abbas also known as “Ray Hushpuppi” who was recently arrested along with associate(s) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and extradited to the United States of America to face trial over cyber-enabled fraud and Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes should be a matter of serious interest to relevant authorities in Nigeria.
“We note that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has already declared the arraigned Instagram celebrity wanted over fraud allegations. However, the EFCC, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and other sister agencies must investigate money laundering reports linking some PDP leaders and financiers to the Dubai-based international criminal ring.
“While relevant authorities investigate the nature of their relationship and business partnership, we also challenge the PDP leadership to do same by opening up on the nature of the relationship, particularly the kind of services the arrested “Hushpuppi” provided them.
“In the leadup to the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, we renew our call against monetised elections and vote-buying schemes which the PDP has serially deployed in elections. We call on relevant authorities to up their guard to prevent these practices that threaten the sanctity of our elections. The people’s will and votes should determine elections, not illicit money used to buy votes.”
But in a swift reaction, former Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, described as irresponsible and cheap politics the APC’s allegation linking him and other PDP leaders with a cybercrime suspect, Ramon Abbas who was recently arrested in the United Arab Emirates and extradited to the United States.
Saraki in a statement issued in Abuja stated that he has no form of association with Hushpuppi and neither does he know him in any way.
“The statement credited to the APC, the ruling party in our country, is one of the ways by which our anti-graft agencies are weakened and why the fight against corruption in the country is often viewed with suspicion by the international community. This is because when these cyber-crime suspects were operating freely and openly displaying wealth, the APC saw nothing bad in their activities. Also, the party at that time did not deem it necessary to call on the anti-graft agencies to investigate their activities.
“Also, since the arrest of those cybercrime suspects and the subsequent damage to the image and the economy of Nigeria as well as the crisis it created for Nigerians engaged in lawful businesses across the world, the ruling party had been muted. The only time the APC deemed it necessary to make a statement was when it thought it should play dirty, cheap and irresponsible politics.
“Dr. Saraki was the only political leader who has publicly made a statement through an Op-Ed article published in the Daily Trust newspaper of July 1, 2020, titled “Cyber Criminals: Confronting The Few Who Dent Many” and this opinion article had been widely circulated online and on other platforms. In that article, he strongly condemned the activities of these cybercriminals and called on the law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders to make decisive interventions to checkmate their activities. He has also got a research institution, the Politeia Institute, whose board he chairs to commence a research on the best ways to tackle the menace.
“Such a noble intervention in tackling a menace is what Dr. Saraki believes in, not mudslinging and playing politics at the expense of the nation’s image. At this point, we call on the APC leadership to rein in the so-called Yekini Nabena and compel him to desist from making and circulating such malicious, odious and offensive claims”, the statement signed Yusuph Olaniyonu of Abubakar Bukola Saraki Media Office read.