John Paden, the authorised biographer of President Muhammadu Buhari, says the president had evidence to put former President Goodluck Jonathan in jail for corruption, but he did not want to do so.
In his book, ‘Muhammadu Buhari: Challenges of Leadership in Nigeria,’ Paden, a professor of international studies, wrote that Buhari was more concerned about recovering stolen funds than about jailing anybody.
He said Buhari had letters in his possession showing Jonathan’s request for off-budget funds.
Buhari recently praised Jonathan’s “patriotism” for the post-election stability in 2015 and it would appear – from Paden’s account – that the president was concerned about the political implications of putting his predecessor on trial.
“As of the early months of 2016, it appeared that the EFCC was not going after Jonathan. Nor was it going after former president Obasanjo. The question of the stability of the entire political system seemed at stake,” Paden wrote in chapter 20, page 203.
“In addition, a number of senior military officers who had served as head of state – from Babangida to Abubakar – seemed off limits. Indeed, rumours swirled that if the probes went after senior officers, they might push back, because they had extensive networks in the active military services.
“At the same time, the knowledge such heavyweights possessed could well be traded for immunity, and would help to illuminate the patterns and sources of corruption. Buhari had letters in his possession showing Jonathan’s requests for off-budget funds. But Buhari’s larger purpose was not to put former high-level officials in jail. Rather, it was to retrieve stolen funds and to change the political culture of the country.”
The president’s biographer in chapter 8, page 67 also alleged that Jonathan withdrew “enormous” funds from the treasury as the March 28 presidential election approached.
“The threat of postelection violence was palpable. There would be winners and losers, quite likely with a regional or ethnoreligious profile. The international community was deeply concerned. Was Nigeria on the brink? High level diplomatic demarches were made to both candidates. A highly publicised ‘Peace Accord’ was signed by Jonathan and Buhari. But would they be able to control grassroots supporters,” he wrote, explaining events leading to the election.
“As March 28 approached, enormous sums of money were withdrawn from the treasury by the incumbents.”