Leaders of a regional socio-political group, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) have disputed claims by a British lawmaker who accused former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon of looting half of the country’s central bank between 1967 and 1975.
The Member of Parliament, Tom Tugendhat, made the damning accusation during the hearing of a petition against the Nigerian government.
However, a jointly signed statement by Chief Ayo Adebanjo (South-west), Chief Edwin Clark (Chairman) South-South, Chief John Nwodo (South-east), and Dr. Pogu Bitrus (Middle Belt), demanded that the British lawmaker back his claims with facts.
“We stand for integrity in public life and will not shield corruption but we are not aware of any such accusation against General Gowon since he was overthrown 45 years ago.
“We therefore call on the British lawmaker who was born a year after the coup of 1975 in Nigeria to check the facts again and do the needful if he was wrong or back up the allegation if he has any evidence to retain his credibility and the institutional integrity of the British Parliament”.
The elder statesmen further posited that:
“With the notoriety of Nigerian rulers to help themselves with public till, we ordinarily would not have been bothered with such accusation.
“We recall that General Gowon was overthrown while at the OAU conference in Kampala in 1975 from where he moved to London where he became a student for years.
“How he could have moved such money when on the run is difficult to comprehend. If he had half of the CBN in a foreign bank, going to school would probably not have been his pre-occupation”.