A report by ThisDay has revealed that former President Goodluck Jonathan may have gone into temporary self exile in Cote d’Ivoire, following reports that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) may arrest him on his arrival in Nigeria from his overseas tour on allegations of corruption and misappropriation of billions of dollars in the five years during which he was Head of State. The report further states that Jonathan might be going on exile considering the tensed political atmosphere in Nigeria.
This is especially true as anti-corruption agencies led by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have swept in on several associates of the former president on allegations of money laundering, diversion of public funds and contract scams, mostly linked to defence sector contracts and the purchase of arms used for the prosecution of the war against Boko Haram in the North-east, the report states.
It was also gathered that the arrest of the former president's cousin, Mr. Aziobola Robert, in connection to a $40 million pipeline surveillance contract, and his former principal secretary and confidant Mr. Hassan Tukur were factors that made the Jonathan take the decision. These arrests were said to have shaken the former president, given that they were the two persons closest to him during his presidency.
ThisDay also revealed that the former president was reliably warned by security sources of the plan to arrest him once he stepped into the country, hence his decision to seek exile in Cote d’Ivoire.
The source disclosed that Jonathan departed Nigeria for the United States almost two months ago travelling to several cities but stayed in New York for some two weeks. After departing the US, he travelled to London to be with his children for a few days, preparatory to his return to Nigeria.
It was also gathered that sympathetic officials in different arms of government have warned Jonathan of the government’s decision to arrest him once he returned to Nigeria. After getting hint of the latest development, he is said to have contacted a few West African leaders including the President of Cote d’Iviore, Mr. Alassane Outtara, who offered him a safe haven until the coast is clear for him to return to Nigeria.
Sources close to the president said since the information of the government’s resolve to arrest Jonathan swept through the Niger Delta, Ijaw militants have gone berserk and stepped up their attacks on oil and gas installations in the region. They are said to be hell bent on shutting down oil output completely.
One source said the militants are targeting all onshore and shallow water installations, from where Nigeria derives the bulk of 90 per cent of its foreign exchange earnings and may head for the deep offshore oil fields if the federal government does not back down.
“Perhaps the only installations that may not be affected in the interim by militant attacks are those in the deep offshore basin because they are more difficult to reach and would require large vessels to access,” said the source who, however, added that “during the last militant crises we went as far as shutting down the Bonga deep water oil field”.
When contacted on the plan by the government to arrest Jonathan and his purported exile, Buhari’s media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, said he was not aware that the former president was in exile, adding that questions on his arrest could only be addressed by the security and law enforcement agencies.