Ibikunle Amosun has always seen himself as being above the law, which was why he disregarded decency and caution in handling public safety and finance throughout his eight-year stint as Ogun State governor.
Shortly after he left office as governor in May 2019, Mr. Amosun was exposed as a gunrunner in a series of articles by Premium Times. Over a year and a half later, he has not been brought to justice. Instead, he has remained a close ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, a relationship that has continued to shield him from being brought to book for complicating Nigeria’s perennial insecurity.
No sooner after he assumed office in May 2011 than the Gateway State descended into chaos. Armed robbery, abduction-for-ransom, cultism and political assassinations became rampant across the state.
But as residents were reeling from the disarray which they blamed on the governor’s “ineptitude,” Mr. Amosun was busy inflicting a generational assault on the state’s treasury, according to state financial records reviewed by Peoples Gazette.
The records showed that Mr. Amosun withdrew N900 million in 90 transactions at N10 million each on September 26, 2014.
On September 29, 2014, alone, Mr. Amosun collected N1.2 billion in 120 cash transactions at N10 million each from the state treasury.
The next day on September 30, 2014, Mr. Amosun again withdrew N600 million in cash over 60 transactions at N10 million each.
The transactions were pulled from Ogun State Government Expenditure Account by Taiwo Adeoluwa, Mr. Amosun’s cabinet secretary throughout his two-term tenure. In some other cases, the transactions were carried out on Mr. Amosun’s behalf by Olusegun Olaleye, then permanent secretary of the state’s finance ministry.
Mr. Amosun rejected multiple requests seeking comments from the Gazette about the transactions, but they came around the presidential primaries of the then-opposition All Progressives Congress.
Mr. Amosun supported then-candidate Muhammadu Buhari at the primaries and he has long been seen as one of those who provided a financial buffer for the Nigerian president. Nigerian politicians are generally known to bribe their way through primaries — using cash inducement to amass just enough number of delegates.
Cash and guns
Mr. Amosun’s questionable cash withdrawals appeared to have begun immediately after he assumed office in 2011 when Mr. Adeoluwa started drawing N10 million in cash transactions from the state’s bankers.
Although bank documents reviewed by the Gazette showed Mr. Amosun withdrew over N4.2 billion from Ogun State, only a fraction of that amount (N70 million) was identifiable as cash withdrawal. More than N4.1 billion bank withdrawals could not be traced because their descriptions were retroactively wiped out, an unethical and potentially criminal practice that has been common amongst Nigerian treasury looters and their collaborators in the banking sector.
The Gazette identified 716 transactions amounting to N7.22 billion that were drawn in cash public treasury by Mr. Amosun in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2019. Over N14 billion in bank withdrawals could not be traced to specific descriptions in 2011 and 2019.
Our review did not cover transactions for 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2018 due to opaque financial records available for those years.
Mr. Amosun failed to clarify the transactions when confronted with the bank documents by the Gazette, apparently confident that anti-graft officials and other relevant law enforcement bodies would be too timid to go after him due to his friendship with the president.
Since he was exposed for smuggling arms into Nigeria in mid-2019, security agencies have been reluctant to hold Mr. Amosun to account. The Nigerian Senate also failed to investigate or sanction him for moving over 1,000 AK-47 rifles into Nigeria without permission.
On December 2, the Gazette exposed how Mr. Amosun transferred N12.5 million to Mr. Buhari for unknown reasons. The presidency in a statement denied our report, saying the funds were destined for a project which Mr. Amosun carried out for Ogun State but in the president’s name.
A spokesman for the EFCC did not return a request seeking comments about how Mr. Amosun squandered state funds between 2011 and 2019.
An anti-corruption campaigner Arisekola Bakare told the Gazette that Mr. Amosun has not been held to account for his mismanagement of Ogun State funds because he was succeeded by a man who was his long-time business associate.
“It is true that Governor Dapo Abiodun and Senator Amosun are now political enemies,” Mr. Bakare said from Sagamu. “But they were once friends and Abiodun received billions worth of public contracts when Amosun was governor.”
“Amosun is being protected at the federal level by President Buhari,” Mr. Bakare said. “While at the state level he is being protected by Governor Abiodun who is afraid of opening a can of worms that could expose both of them as fraudulent politicians.”
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