ABUJA – The Nigerian political elite took to their battle to Twitter on Saturday as the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mrs. Aisha Buhari, wife of the President and the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Malam Garba Shehu, engaged in a war of words over alleged forex deals running into millions of dollars.
Among others, the PDP accused Buhari, his wife, Aisha; Interior Minister, Abdulrahman Dambazau; Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, and some presidency officials of engaging in forex deals by getting foreign exchange, especially dollars, on the orders of CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, at discounted rates and selling same at the black market at exorbitant prices.
The opposition party accused Buhari of withdrawning $23 million for foreign travel expenses and estacode within seven months.
Shehu, who immediately defended his integrity, threatened to sue the peddlers of such rumours.
In series of tweets, the party also accused Mrs. Aisha Buhari of getting millions of dollars through the same channel.
Using the hashtag, #CorruptionAndBuhari, the party said in the tweets: “Garba Shehu got $800,000 forex at N185 from CBN on the instructions of Emefiele, CBN governor and sold at N350 on the same day.
“A Bureau De Change company linked with General Danbazzau got $6m forex from CBN at N185 and sold at N362.
“First Lady Aisha Buhari got $22m forex from CBN on the instructions of Emefiele and the company sold at N362 same day.
“Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to President Buhari, also got $400,000 at N185 and sold for N340.
But, Shehu, in his reaction, said: “It is a lie by PDP to say I bought $800,000 from the CBN. I had only two FOREX purchases since coming into government: Eight thousand Dollars (USD 8,000) sent to my daughter and nephews through UBA. This is verifiable.
“I’m not a FOREX trader. The day I choose to start trading in FOREX, I will resign as Presidential spokesman.
“If I know the coward and psychopath behind the official PDP handle, I will launch a defamation suit against him/her. And I will claim money in millions as damages”.
In her reaction, Hajia Aisha Buhari, told those she accused of trying to malign her that they would be dealt with according to the law.
Mrs. Buhari’s statement was a reaction to claim by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that she got $22million at N185 from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the instructions of its Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and sold at N362.
In a series of tweets from her official Twitter account, she denied the allegation, saying she has not and would never be involved in any illegal dealings.
The CBN also described the allegations as false.
It tweeted by the handle @UnofficialCBN: “@cenbank never sold dollars at N185 – $1. Devaluations were from N155 to N167 and N197. CBN only does wholesale allocation to banks (Selling dollars to banks at wholesale). Only banks can determine customers they sell to.
“That’s how the Wholesale Dutch Auction System works. @cenbank does not sell dollars to any individual or group directly. Banks publish final recipients of dollars every week in all major newspapers as directed by the #CBN, so as to promote transparency.
So, the PDP is only being mischievous and silly. What’s the big revelation? How did PDP know how much the recipients sold the dollars in the open market even if they ended up doing so?
“Simply another smear campaign by Gov. Emefiele’s detractors to connect his name to everything wrong, both imagined, fabricated, or real. As Gov. Oshiomole aptly and succinctly posited recently, these faceless persons will be unmasked soon as ‘palmwine drinkers”.