Nigerian presidential candidate considering corruption amnesty

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Nigerian opposition presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar said he would consider amnesty for corruption suspects to help recover billions of dollars stashed abroad by politicians and government officials.

Abubakar is the main challenger to President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 16 election, where corruption, security and the economy are key issues. Buhari is hoping his anti-corruption agenda can win him a second term.

Nigerian state coffers have been ransacked by government officials and their associates and corruption is prevalent throughout society. Buhari was elected in 2015 in part on a promise to rid the country of graft.

The West African nation launched a whistleblower scheme two years ago entitling those who help find stolen assets to up to five percent of recovered money, part of a drive by Buhari to root out endemic corruption.

Abubakar said the amnesty programme would encourage looters to voluntarily return some stolen funds needed to fund infrastructure investment and recommended sanctions for election rigging.

“Why can we not have an election fraud commission?” Abubakar said during a televised town hall meeting to woo voters.

“So that we bring to book any individual, whether a member of a political party, INEC (electoral commission) or the security services who infringes.”

Abubakar and his vice presidential candidate Peter Obi were challenged on their track records regarding corruption and investing government funds in private businesses, some of which they own shares in, while in public office. Both candidates denied allegations of graft.

He would be willing to investigate allegations of corruption in senior ranks of the military, as the military faces shortages of weapons and other resources in its war against Islamist insurgencies.

Critics often accuse the Nigerian military’s senior officers of corruption, alleging graft drains resources and weapons from the north-east, where they are needed to fight advancing Islamist insurgencies.



Abubakar said earlier in a speech he would create a $25 billion fund to support private sector investment in infrastructure if elected, as part of plans to revive