Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, has described President Muhammadu Buhari as a man of integrity as his name has not been found in the Panama documents scandal. Governor El-Rufai made the statement in Kaduna on Thursday while speaking at the closing ceremony of the two-day Kaduna Investment Forum which held at the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Indoor Sports Hall, Murtala Square, Kaduna.
The governor was grateful for the encouragement he received from Buhari, without which he would not have won the election.
“If he had not asked me to run for the governorship, I wouldn’t have stood before you today as the governor of the state. It is the Buhari phenomenon that had swept away the PDP. Buhari is a man of integrity, a Nigerian leader whose name has not been found in the Panama documents.”
The release this week of the documents of a Panama offshore financial provider, Mossack Fonseca, obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has revealed records of top secret financial dealings of over 128 politicians and public figures, including Nigerians.
Top Nigerian celebrities, billionaires and politicians linked to the scandals includes the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and his wife, Toyin, former Senate President, David Mark; a retired army general and former defence minister, Theophilus Danjuma, former Delta State governor, James Ibori and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, and his oil-magnate brother, Sayyu Dantata.
Although, some of them have come out to explain or deny being connected to the exposed document, some civil society groups and concerned Nigerians asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately order the relevant anti-graft and security agencies to launch a probe of some top public officials named in connection with the massive Panama Papers scandal.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has also called for the prosecution of public office holders who were indicted in the leaked Panama Papers. He said:
“Private persons are not prohibited from keeping accounts wherever they like. However public officers have always been barred by the Code of Conduct Bureau and Code of Conduct Tribunal Act from operating foreign accounts in any manner whatsoever.
“To that extent, former and serving public officers whose accounts have been published in the Panama Papers are liable to be prosecuted if they had failed to declare them in their asset declaration forms.
“Secondly, the onus is on them to prove that any funds in such accounts emanated from their legitimate income.”
Former Senate President, David Mark, who was linked with eight offshore companies in British Virgin Island in the scandal has however, denied breaching the Nigeria’s code of conduct for public officers. He claims the exposed offshore companies are not his.