By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor

LAGOS—The presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress, APC and that of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,  President Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar,  were yesterday locked in a sharp exchange of words over perceptions of corruption following the alleged reception of erstwhile Federal Government scribe, Mr. Babachir Lawal in the Presidential Villa.

Atiku AND Buhari

Lawal attended the launch of Together Nigeria organised by the Buhari Support Organisation, BSO.

Atiku fired the first salvo in a statement yesterday where he piled a litany of allegations of corruption under the watch of the Buhari administration which he said was crowned with Nigeria’s ever worst corruption rating by Transparency International.

Buhari quickly responded with the claim that Atiku had launched a campaign to depict everyone as corrupt, describing as a shame the regurgitation of what he claimed as old and unproven allegations.

Why would you reduce my age by one?, Buhari protest

Atiku in a statement  by his media aide, Mr. Paul Ibe said he “was taken aback last week when Mr. Babachir Lawal, Buhari’s former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, turned up at the Presidential Villa on December 13, 2018, where he was received with pomp and pageantry.”

“It is a very sad day for Nigeria when the President honours a man proven beyond all reasonable doubt to have soiled his hands with money meant for starving refugees.

“These are the actions which feed the perceptions that have made Nigeria turn in its worst ever Corruption Perception Index rating by Transparency International where we went back 12 steps in 2018’s rankings, moving from 136 under President Jonathan to 148 today.

Atiku wishes Buhari happy birthday, says we are brothers from the same womb

“According to Transparency International, Nigeria is more corrupt today, and we ask the government to answer a few questions including:  “Who reinstated and double promoted Maina? Who owns the Ikoyi Apartment $42 million? What has happened to Aisha Buhari’s ADC who looted N2.5 billion? Why was the $25 billion NNPC contracts awarded without due process not investigated?

Responding to the allegation yesterday, Buhari speaking through Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, Director of Strategic Communications of the Buhari Campaign said: “My simple response is that they sound like a broken record. At various times in the past and we have shown in our responses in the past that not one single of the cases depicts the Buhari administration as either condoning or promoting corruption.”

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