By Dapo Akinrefon
THE Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, yesterday, faulted an allegation that former military head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd), looted half of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, during his tenure as Head of State, noting that if he (Gowon) had half of the CBN in a foreign bank, “going to school would probably not have been his pre-occupation.”
Gowon was accused of looting half of the CBN by a United Kingdom member of Parliament, Tom Tugendhat, last week Monday, during a hearing of a petition against the Nigerian government at a committee meeting of the parliament.
But in a statement titled: ‘On Looting Allegation Against General Gowon’, the forum Chairman, Chief E. K. Clark, South-South; Chief Ayo Adebanjo, South West; Chief John Nwodo, South East, and Dr. Pogu Bitrus, Middle Belt, debunked the accusation.
The statement read: “The attention of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has been drawn to the flat rebuttal by General Yakubu Gowon, of the allegation that he looted half of the Central Bank as the military Head of State in Nigeria.
The former Head of State, who ruled the country from 1966 to 1975, in his reaction to the allegations, stated he was disappointed and sad but he knows he’s innocent of the claims.
“With the notoriety of Nigerian rulers to help themselves with the public fund, 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 preoccupation.
“While we stand for holding leaders accountable for their stewardship, we will not support maligning people without facts.
“We stand for integrity in public life and will not shield corruption but we are not aware of any such accusation against Gen 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.”