A member of the United Kingdom Parliament, Tom Tugendhat, on Monday accused former Nigerian head of state Lt Col Yakubu Gowon of “stealing half of Nigeria’s Central Bank”, a claim the latter has denied.
Tugendhat was speaking during a parliamentary debate on EndSARS, which centered on whether the UK government should impose sanctions on Nigeria following the protests against police brutality that reportedly resulted in the deaths of some participants.
The Conservative MP Tugendhat while accusing Nigerian leaders of corruption said: “Some people will remember when General Gowon left Nigeria with half the Central Bank of Nigeria, so it is said, and moved to London.”
“We know that today, even now, in this great city of ours, there are, sadly, some people who have taken from the Nigerian people and hidden their ill-gotten gains here.”
“We know that our banks, sadly, have been used for that profit and for that illegal transfer of assets. And that means the UK is in enormous unique position in being able to do actually something to really exert pressure on those who have robbed the Nigerian people,” the MP said in the UK parliament.
But in an interview with the BBC, Gowon said the UK MP’s claims are baseless. “I don’t know where he got that rubbish from, I served Nigeria diligently and my records are there for all to see,” he said.
Gowon was Nigeria’s Head of State from 1966 to 1975. He was attending an Organisation of African Unity (OAU) summit in Kampala, Uganda, when he was told he had been overthrown in a coup back home by a group of army officers on July 29, 1975.
Gowon, who also came to power via a coup and played a key role in preventing the Biafran secession, fled into exile in the United Kingdom afterward.
Poor African countries have trillions of dollars stacked up in European banks and in United States’ institutions by African despots with limited knowledge of their existence. These monies were stolen by leaders whose greed got them to deny their people the basic necessities of life while they enrich themselves and their families.
One of such leaders is Nigerian despot, Sani Abacha, who is believed to have stolen over $5 billion and kept them in banks abroad. His criminal ways were uncovered after his death in 1998 and the country is fighting to recover the few monies they are aware of.
In 2004, Abacha was ranked as the fourth most corrupt leader in history. Together with his National Security Adviser Alhaji Ismaila Gwarzo, they made false funding requests which they approved. The funds would then be transferred to the Central Bank of Nigeria before laundering them to offshore accounts.