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Nigeria frees ex-president’s spokesman held in graft probe

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Lagos, Nigeria | AFP |

Nigeria has released a spokesman for former president Goodluck Jonathan held for allegedly diverting money meant to fight Boko Haram Islamists, an anti-graft official said Sunday.

Reuben Abati was arrested and held for questioning by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) since October 24 on alleged misuse of funds alloted for fighting the jihadists.

“Dr. Abati was released on Saturday, but may still be required to appear for further interrogation,” a legal officer with the EFCC told AFP.

Abati was a popular columnist and chairman of the editorial board of the independent Guardian newspaper before his appointment as Jonathan’s spokesman.

The journalist is accused of receiving money from former national security adviser Sambo Dasuki, currently facing a slew of charges over alleged bogus arms deals in which money meant for military procurement to fight Boko Haram was diverted for political purposes.

The funds were allegedly used to finance Jonathan’s bid for re-election in the 2015 vote which he lost to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari has launched a wide-ranging campaign against corruption targeting key members of the previous regime.

Former ministers, prominent party chiefs, media owners and relations of the former president are facing charges.

But critics have accused Buhari of using his anti-graft crackdown to silence political opponents and crush dissent, but his government has dismissed the claim.

 

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