The phantom N2bn in Atiku Kigo’s house: Fact or fallacy?
BY Mohammed Bunza –
When somebody gave the story to the press sometime ago that N2billion was found in Malam Abubakar Atiku Kigo, the Permanent Secretary, Office of the Head of Service, currently standing trial on the alleged pension scam, it was obvious that mischief was in the mix judging from the timing and the way the story was spinned.
Interestingly, unfolding events are beginning to confirm my initial suspicion that the story was planted ab initio to incriminate him and convict him even before his trial. In the first place, the story failed the most crucial test of journalism: attribution. The story was merely credited to an EFCC source.
As maintained by his lawyers since the story was first published, Kigo has vehemently denied the purported discovery of N2billion in his house and has even challenged anyone with proof to the contrary to come forward.
It is also noteworthy that neither the EFCC which was quoted as conducting the search, the Nigerian Police nor any other security organization in the country has ever made such report of the alleged N2billion recovered. There is also no mention of such recovery in relevant documents before the court.
Where then is the missing link and the lesson in all these? It is worrisome that this officer kept silent while his traducers capriciously worked the media into misleading the public and unleashed this avoidable battering on his image.
His lawyer, Yahaya Mahmood (SAN) has not only vehemently denied the media report, he has also stated they were silent because Kigo wanted “to avoid any press war or controversy” as a law-abiding civil servant still in service. But that they had to break that silence when elite and prominent Nigerians like General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) who should be able to discern were beginning to believe the false story and that it had become a subject of sermons in mosques and churches.
It is indeed a lesson to many in Kigo’s shoes. I do not see any reason why he and his handlers could not envisage the potential damage by such a report moreso that it was entirely false, baseless and unfounded and capable of misleading the unsuspecting public.
Furthermore, the officer in question, according to official records, left the Police Pension Office about 18 months ago. Is it imaginable that he has been keeping the alleged N2 billion (a round figure?) in his house since that period? This also leaves one to wonder what space the cash would take in a 3-bedroom apartment that has little space in the courtyard.
One may also need to know at this junction how many trucks will carry 2, 000, 000,000.00 naira cash from the permanent secretary’s house to the EFCC office or what sort of wardrobe, ceiling or soak away will contain such load of money?
This piece is therefore inspired by the cry for justice and fairness arising from the gaping holes in the said report and the fresh revelations on the persona of the man in the eye of the storm who hails from a respected family steeped in the tradition of the fear of God, integrity, dedication and total devotion to the public service.
As a matter of fact, Kigo is a seasoned and model civil servant with over 30 years of service both at State and Federal levels. In all the positions he has held prior to his assignment at the Police Pension Office as director between 2009 and 2010 before being appointed permanent secretary, he has conducted himself creditably, sincerely and patriotically.
In his presentation to the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service, he said he left about N28 billion in the coffers of the Police Pension Office, stating that the records are open to public verification and confirmation.
It is perhaps premature now to blame his current travails on his insistence on respect for the ethics of his job which prescribes absolute silence and forbids being heard no matter what. Can he, as one who trusts the Almighty God to vindicate the just and the upright, say that fate is at play in this whole drama? Only time will tell.
Mohammed wrote from Birnin Kebbi.
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