from Africa in Transition , Africa Program , and Nigeria on the Brink

Nigerian Media’s Unsubstantiated Claims that U.S. Agencies Investigating Corruption by Buhari's Inner Circle

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the nation over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Abuja, Nigeria, on April 27, 2020.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the nation over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Abuja, Nigeria, on April 27, 2020. Nigeria Presidency/Handout via Reuters

June 24, 2020

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the nation over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Abuja, Nigeria, on April 27, 2020.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the nation over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Abuja, Nigeria, on April 27, 2020. Nigeria Presidency/Handout via Reuters
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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

Pointblank News is reporting that the U.S. Departments of State and Justice are investigating Sabiu 'Tunde' Yusuf, Sarki Abba, Mamman Daura, Ismaila Isa Funtua, and his son Abubakar Funtua for money laundering in the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. Most are members of Buhari's inner circle. Pointblank cites a figure of $800 million used to purchase real estate in the UK and the Gulf states.

The U.S. investigation, according to Pointblank News, is being conducted in cooperation with the United Kingdom through the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and the United Arab Emirates through the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which levies reporting requirements on, among others, foreign entities in which U.S. tax payers hold substantial ownership shares.

More on:

Nigeria

Corruption

U.S. State Department

Muhammadu Buhari

Transnational Crime

But there should be no rush to judgement. It is rare for the Department of State or the Department of Justice to say that there is an investigation underway, and neither has done so publicly. Reporting by Pointblank News has been questioned in the past. On the other hand, Sabiu 'Tunde' Yusuf is known to be very rich, and Nigerian money laundering in the Gulf and the United Kingdom is an old song. President Muhammadu Buhari appears to have little personal interest in money, lives simply, and is rarely accused of personal corruption. But that his inner circle is corrupt is a widely held trope in southern Nigeria. The upper reaches of his administration is almost entirely made up of Muslims from the north, often with personal connections to the president. In a country where it is commonly believed that half of the population is Christian and half is Muslim, the overwhelmingly Muslim character of the Buhari government encourages those opposed to the president, especially among Christians in the south, to believe that his inner circle is corrupt.

More on:

Nigeria

Corruption

U.S. State Department

Muhammadu Buhari

Transnational Crime

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