Nigeria has sought apology and retraction from the British government after a parliamentarian accused Yakubu Gowon, Nigeria’s former Head of State, of looting public treasury, Abuja has said.
The British MP, Tom Tugendhat, had during a debate Tuesday on a petition regarding arbitrary use of force and brutality by Nigerian security forces said, ‘some people will remember when General Gown left Nigeria with half the Central Bank and moved to London.”
Mr Tugendhat, who is the chair of the foreign affairs committee in the British House of Commons, did not substantiate his claim with any evidence or detail.
The accusation, however, became a subject of controversy in Nigeria especially on Twitter. Mr Gowon dismissed it as “rubbish”, BBC reported.
In a statement by Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, signed by Ferdinand Nwonye, the ministry’s spokesperson, on Friday, the ministry described the MP’s allegation as “outrageous and unsubstantiated.”
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the Nigerian High Commission in London, immediately sought an apology and retraction of the unsubstantiated allegation from the British Government,” the statement said.
It added that Charlotte Pierre, the Head of Africa Department of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, had “expressed strong reservations” on Mr Tugendhat’s allegation.
The statement quoted Ms Pierre as saying that, “the said comment of the MP does not reflect the views of Her Majesty’s Government and the British Government has no mechanism for controlling the actions and speeches of members of the Parliament.
The statement added that Ms Pierre urged the government and people of Nigeria to “discountenance the said comment of the MP as Her Majesty’s Government has nothing to do with it.”
Ms Pierre could not be immediately reached for comment and confirmation of the statements Abuja attributed to her.
Mr Gowon, Nigeria’s military leader between 1966 and 1975, led the country through the 30-month Civil War (1967-1970) and was ousted in a coup when he was attending a defunct OAU meeting in Kampala, Uganda on July 29, 1975 by Murtala Mohammed, his successor.
The President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, also spoke in defence of Mr Gowon on Thursday, warning against “misinformation”.