The Presidency on Monday defended the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), saying the anti-graft agency did not raid an apartment occupied by the two sons of Atiku Abubakar.
Presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu claimed the news of the anti-corruption raid, which PREMIUM TIMES broke on Monday morning, was spread by main opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
Mr Shehu’s comments came hours after the EFCC issued a statement explaining its role in the controversial search of the building and apartment occupied by Aliyu and Mustapha Atiku-Abubakar, whose father is the main challenger to President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential election coming up next February.
Aliyu and Mustapha’s apartment is in the same property as that of the sons of ex-Abia State governor, Theodore Orji.
The EFCC confirmed raiding the apartment of the sons of Mr Orji, but said the operation was not targeted at any member of the Abubakars.
It said only Mr Orji’s son was arrested and his vehicles confiscated, adding that it was the outcome of several weeks of trailing him in connection with the ongoing corruption investigation of their father.
The anti-graft office was however silent on whether or not it entered the apartment of Mr Abubakar’s sons at the premises of Pinnacle Apartments in Maitama. It was also silent on whether it knew or was told the apartment belonged to the Abubakars before entering it for a search.
Aliyu and Mustapha had been studying abroad and were not at home when the search was conducted Saturday morning.
The management of Pinnacle Apartments, which is run by property giant UPDC, could not be reached for comments on Monday afternoon.
Security personnel manning the exquisite property’s entrance told PREMIUM TIMES they have no immediate knowledge of EFCC raid over the weekend.
PREMIUM TIMES broke the news on details provided by sources knowledgeable about the raid, sparking nationwide uproar dominated by accusation of anti-opposition clampdown by the Buhari administration.
Paul Ibe, a spokesperson for the Abubakars, confirmed the raid, saying it was politically motivated.
It came barely a few weeks after Mr Abubakar himself was searched at the Abuja airport while returning to the country from a holiday in Dubai on November 11.
Mr Shehu scrambled to assist the EFCC, an agency that should be independent, in containing the fallout of the raid, which the EFCC did not publicly disclose until PREMIUM TIMES report.
In his Monday night statement, Mr Shehu said he had seen an emerging pattern of accusations of opposition clampdown from the PDP side.
The report that the raid was “ordered by Buhari-led government” and the “fairy tale” about the alleged freezing of the bank accounts of the running mate of Mr Abubakar, Peter Obi, were untrue, Mr Shehu said.
The spokesperson was referring to the alarm raised by the PDP over the weekend that Mr Obi’s bank accounts and those of his family member and business associates were frozen.
The PDP failed to disclose the agency responsible for the raid, and PREMIUM TIMES reported that politicians affiliated to the opposition party have been caught recently making false claims about their bank accounts being blocked by anti-graft agencies.