- File picture. L-R: Hushpuppi, Atiku
The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has charged the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its Presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Atiku Abubakar, to come clean on their pre-election relationships with the indicted internet fraudster Ramon Abbas, also known as Hushpuppi.
According to the group, this is against the backdrop of the several meetings some of the party’s senior figures held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with the man that has now been indicted in several international cyber and business email compromise frauds in the United States.
In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, the group said that Nigerians deserve to know whether there was more to the party’s meetings with Hushpuppi in the context of what was then known as the party’s “Dubai strategy” in the run up to the 2019 Presidential election.
“Like many Nigerians, we had carefully watched how senior PDP members, including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar held meetings with a man with the type of reputation Hushpuppi had as a hacker, even though there was no conclusive proof of his criminal proclivities at the time.
“It was at a time the leadership of the opposition party turned Dubai into their strategic meeting place and some of their members proudly displayed, on social and traditional media, pictures of Hushpuppi in their midst, sometimes in celebratory mood.
“And now that the Dubai resident has been formally indicted by the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), we believe this is the time that a party that sees itself as a viable alternative to the All Progressives Congress (APC) should give Nigerians some insight into the nature of its relationship with him.
“We make bold to say that it is no coincidence that Hushpuppi and PDP figures exhibited a level of camaraderie in those pictures that are still in the public space, so Nigerians deserve to know the purpose of those engagements with a known computer hacker and now indicted cyber fraudster?
“Is the party or any of its leading figures one of Hushpuppi’s clients, especially as they had always insisted that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had a server for results”, the group wondered.
BMO noted that PDP’s link with the indicted fraudster is a clear indication of the type of characters in the fold of the former ruling party.
“No discerning Nigerian would be really surprised that a party that ran the country aground in 16 years, even at a time of an oil boom, has a public relationship with a celebrated international fraudster.
“We recall that when pictures of Hushpuppi with the former PDP Presidential candidate, as well as those of other senior opposition figures first surfaced online just before the election, some politically savvy people described the relationship as one between birds of the same feather.
“It was immediately clear that their position was based on the knowledge that one group which presided over mass looting of Nigeria’s resources was comfortable with an individual believed to be heavily engaged in money laundering on an international scale.
“We would not be surprised if Hushpuppi eventually names a highly placed PDP member as either an accomplice or a facilitator by the time the Americans conclude their investigations”.
BMO urged the opposition party to begin the process of actually winning the heart of eligible voters like President Buhari and APC did in 2015 and 2019, rather than its usual manner of seeking to manipulate elections through fraudsters.