I stopped Oshiomhole N15bn loan bid, that’s why he is after me— Okonjo-Iweala

Nigeria's Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala speaks during an interview with Reuters in her office in the capital Abuja August 24, 2012. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Nigeria's Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala speaks during an interview with Reuters in her office in the capital Abuja August 24, 2012.   REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

A former minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has urged the federal government to call the Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, to order, saying Mr. Oshiomhole is seeking how to link her to the $2.1 billion arms probe.

Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said she had “absolutely nothing” to do with the arms issue.

The Nigerian government has made high profile arrests in connection with an ongoing investigation into the alleged $2.1 billion arms contract.

Former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, was arrested Tuesday.

Mr. Oshiomhole was quoted Wednesday by Leadership newspaper as saying the immediate past finance minister, and former President Goodluck Jonathan, should also be prosecuted as they gave approval for funds to be released.

“The issue is whether the Nigerian president under the constitution has the power to approve funds belonging to local, state and federal government- funds that have not been appropriated by the National Assembly,” Mr. Oshiomhole was quoted by the paper as saying.

“That is a criminal offense for which Okonjo-Iweala ought to face criminal prosecution. These things are just discussed and wished away. For me, I will stick for the truth and don’t care what people will say,” he said.

In an emailed statement signed by her spokesperson, Paul Nwabuiku, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said that it is an abuse of public office, the judicial process and her human rights for Governor Oshiomhole “whom she stopped from taking a highly suspicious N15 billion loan to make false allegations against her while hiding behind the constitutional immunity granted state governors”.

“As recently confirmed by the Debt Management Office, professional analysis showed that Oshiomhole’s loan request which was based on using low interest World Bank loan to offset high interest commercial loans would have left Edo state with a heavy debt burden and the state would have found it very difficult to pay back,” the former minister said.

The former minister said it was unconscionable for the governor to embark on a “campaign of lies against her because she thwarted his dubious loan request”.

She described the governor’s unsubstantiated allegations as a “cynical personalization of the anti-corruption campaign to achieve ignoble objectives”.

“Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala therefore put Mr. Oshiomhole and his ilk on notice that she has briefed her lawyers and that she is ready to explore all legal means, local and international, to defend her name against corrupt and compromised persons,” her spokesperson said.

“It has become a pattern of behaviour that each time Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is internationally recognized, Governor Oshiomhole and his cohorts embark on a cynical and devious ploy of trying to pull her down locally.

“Just last night, December 1, Okonjo-Iweala was honoured at a high profile event attended by Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton. Okonjo Iweala was honoured alongside Michael Bloomberg, Bill and Melinda Gates and Mo Ibrahim for their contributions to global development and humanity.

“Gov. Oshiomhole and his cohorts should realize that their ill-motivated attempts to taint Dr Okonjo Iweala’s reputation will never succeed!” the statement said.

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