BORNO, Nigeria – A former Adviser on National Assembly Matters to ex-President, Goodluck Jonathan, Senator Mohammed Abba Aji has called on the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria to exonerate former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon from the allegation of siphoning of CBN’s funds.
The allegation was made against Gowon by a member of the British Parliament and Chairman, Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Tom Turgendhat.
Aji expressed concern while briefing Journalists at his residence in Maiduguri on Tuesday.
He said Gowon who had worked tirelessly in uniting this country to become one nation deserve to be protected against this baseless allegation, and wondered why even the Nigerian Press amplified such an unsubstantiated allegation from a British Parliamentarian,Turgendhat.
Aji who is also the Secretary of North East Governors Forum, said, instead of the federal government, CBN and the Nigerian Press to stand for Gowon in a moment at the age of 86, all parties decided to leave Gowon to defend himself.
He warned that such state of distressful allegation could likely endanger his life.
“I was very terribly disturbed when I saw a baseless allegation leveled against our former President, General Yakubu Gowon, by one Allien Parliamentarian gaining unwarranted grounds in our country.
“General Gowon became Head of State at the age of barely 40, and he spent all his energy uniting this country by pulling us out of the Civil War.
“Gowon had a very challenging regime, because at a point, all the regions including the North where he hails from were agitating for breakup, but he was the only one that became the matrix that binded and United this country together, and even his name became synonymous with, ‘Go On With One Nigeria (GOWON) at that time, ” Aji said.
Continuing Aji noted that, even when Gowon was toppled, he did not resist, instead, he was appealing for calm and bloodlessness of the coup, adding that, for peace to reign, General Gowon immediately supported the regime that took over.
“I am really surprised to see someone like Tom Tugendhat, a member of the British Parliament and Chairman Foreign Relations Committee raising such unsubstantiated allegations on the floor of the parliament against one of our Best Respected Head of State, General Gowon, alleging that this Gentleman, Gowon, left with half of the CBN funds, as if Turgendhat knows how much was in the CBN, how much was taken and how much was left as at then, without tendering documents to prove.
“We know the condition when Gowon left, he left for Kampala for Organization of African Union (OAU) summit, and it was during the summit in Kampala that he was informed that he had been toppled, and records have it that it was the Nigerian Delegation and even the staff of the Embassy in Kampala that put together the sum of £3000 and gave it to Gowon, and that was the only money he left Kampala with. General Idi Amin gave him a plane that took him to Lome, and when Gowon returned to Nigeria, it was even published that he had the sum of N17,000 only in his Bank Account here in Nigeria.
“Gowon is now at the age of 86, if he has any money, would he be keeping it for the next life? He has been living all this while a very humble life, Honest, God fearing and Godly.
“Since he returned from exile, he has been involved in humanitarian services such as the fight against Guinea worm among others and distant himself from politics.
“But I don’t blame this alien Parliamentarian who has abused Parliamentarian privileges, because being a Parliamentarian does not give you a privilege to make unsubstantiated allegations against anybody, particularly on the person of our Best Head of State General Gowon.
“I am sure, the British government and its people cannot take this allegation seriously nor give attention it deserves.
“Likewise, I must say I am disappointed with your own industry, (Nigerian Media) for giving it unwarranted attention on the pages of newspapers and social media as if it was a verse from the sky, without giving this Gentleman (Gowon) even the benefit of doubt, or forcing him to defend himself.
“In fact, Gowon should not even open his mouth, we are the witnesses of his integrity in this country, so I want to assure General Gowon that this baseless allegation has not dented his integrity in Nigeria or in our eyes.
“This is because, it was the results of General Gowon’s commitments that Nigeria became what it is today.
“We know how he suffered to pull this country out of the Civil War, and he didn’t stop at that, but he reconciled this country, in which, we must give him this credit.
“So when Mr Turgendhat made this wild allegation, I did not expect any Nigerian Newspaper or the press to amplify it, but you did, so I think it is the Nigerian press that need to apologize to General Gowon,” Senator Aji stated.